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Festival-goers given criminal records over minor drug offences

A Sydney magistrate rejected pleas for leniency from a group of first-time offenders

  • SCOTT CARBINES
  • 27 January 2016

Eleven of the 184* people caught with drugs at Sydney's Field Day on New Year's Day have been left with criminal records, despite some being first-time offenders with as little as two caps on them.

Magistrate John Favretto handed down the harsh penalties this week, saying the expectation first-time offenders would receive a 'section 10', where they would be found guilty but have no conviction recorded, had led to more people risking arrest for drugs at music festivals in New South Wales.

Magistrate Favretto cited the fact 'people keep dying' from drugs at music festivals when handing down one of the sentences, following a number of high-profile drug-related deaths at events in the past 18 months. The Field Day 2016 arrests and hospitalisation of a 23-year-old woman at the event led to Premier Mike Baird declaring festivals would face being banned if they failed to stop drug-related deaths and incidents occurring at them.

We find it impossible to believe handing young people criminal records for having a couple of pills on them at a music festival is going to do anything to prevent drug-related deaths in the future, or have any positive impact on society whatsoever. What it does do is prevent these people from working in their chosen field and contributing to society in an area they are skilled in, something that should be encouraged, when they are just starting out, all because they had something cheeky in their pocket on New Year's Day.

*Not all of the 184 cases have been before the court yet.

Scott Carbines is Mixmag's Australian Online News Editor, follow him on Twitter.

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