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22 Jul 2019 7:30
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  •   Home > News > International

    Music festival inquest hears woman was told strip search would be 'nice and slow'

    A young music fan "humiliated" during a strip search at a music festival tells an inquest a police officer threatened to make the process "nice and slow" unless she confessed to drug use.


    A young music fan "humiliated" during a strip search at a music festival has told an inquest a police officer threatened to make the process "nice and slow" unless she confessed to drug use.

    The young woman, whose identity was suppressed, was giving evidence as part of the NSW coroner's investigation into six drug-related festival deaths over the summers of 2017 and 2018.

    She attended the same festival as 18-year-old Nathan Tran, who died at the Knockout Circuz event in 2017.

    On Thursday, she told the NSW Coroners Court heavy security at music festivals made her feel "like a criminal".

    The woman fought back tears as she recalled being walked through the crowd at the 2017 festival by police after a drug detection dog indicated a positive reaction.

    "Everyone was staring at me," she said.

    The woman said being strip searched was an "unpleasant experience".

    "I have been strip searched twice and they've never found anything on me," she said.

    She was led into a room and told to take her clothes off. She said a female police officer repeatedly demanded to know where her drugs were and said the dogs were "never wrong".

    "She said 'if you don't tell me where the drugs are I'm going to make this nice and slow'," the witness told the court.

    "She made me take my shorts off and my underwear.

    "Then she made me squat and cough ... and then I had to turn around and squat and cough."

    Counsel assisting the inquiry, Peggy Dwyer, asked the witness how she felt for the rest of the evening.

    "I just wanted to go," the woman replied.

    The woman said some festival-goers were so afraid of getting in trouble they avoided the medic tents.

    The court has heard Mr Tran, a gaming fan described as usually mild-mannered, became aggressive and had to be restrained and sedated before he was taken to hospital, where he died.

    His cause of death was found to be MDMA toxicity.

    'It made me feel nervous'

    The Redfern Legal Centre called on deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame to refer any police officer who may have used a strip search as a form of intimidation to the police corruption watchdog.

    Spokeswoman Samantha Lee said the idea an officer may have used the search as a scare tactic was "quite simply abhorrent".

    Ms Grahame attended the Show Your True Colours festival in Sydney last month as she prepared for the inquest.

    She told the court today she had a "strange sensation" after seeing the security operation at the entrance.

    "It made me feel nervous," Ms Grahame said.

    "There were lines and lines of police and dogs. I was surprised at how intense it was."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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