Mum of dead Defqon fan pleads for time to mourn
THE shattered mother of a young reveller who died at a dance festival with an appalling record of drug deaths has begged politicians and campaigners to stop using her son's death to push for pill testing and let her grieve.
Thi Pham said Green and Labor politicians and campaigners are seizing on Joseph's death in a clamour to call for on the spot drugs-testing less than 24 hours after he died from a suspected overdose at Defqon.
"I'm so sad … I feel sick, Joseph has just gone, we need time to mourn," she told The Daily Telegraph from her home in the western Sydney suburb of Edensor Park.
"I don't really care for what politicians want right now."
Joseph's brother John added: "It's all too soon, we don't want to comment, we're still trying to come to terms with what's happened to Joseph, we're raw, it's too sensitive for us."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to shut down the annual Sydney festival attended by more than 30,000 fans hours after Joseph, 23, and a 21-year-old woman from Melbourne, collapsed and died at the popular Penrith event at around 9pm on Saturday.
They were one of three who suffered heart attacks at the same time.
A woman, 26, from Jamisontown, is fighting for survival and remains critical at Nepean Hospital. A man, 19, from Artarmon, remains in Liverpool Hospital's intensive care unit.
Mr Pham regularly posted messages on his Facebook page from Sniff Off, which argues against the use of police sniffer dogs.
The last one he shared described the "ridiculous" levels of "anxiety" the use of police dogs put revellers through as they attended Saturday night's festival.
As many as 700 of the 30,000 revellers at the Sydney International Regatta Centre sought attention from medics, who were responding to multiple reports of suspected drug overdoses.
Police conducted 355 drug searches on the night and found 69 people in possession of narcotics, including two 17-year-old girls who were attempting to smuggle 120 capsules into the event inside their bodies. They were among 10 people charged.
One of those charged with supplying a prohibited drug, Alexander Naberezhnon, 27, appeared in Penrith Local Court wearing a "Cocaine and Caviar" brand hoodie and was refused bail after claiming he was paid $300 to carry ecstasy pills and mobile phones into the event.
"He is what is commonly described as a mule," Magistrate Peter Ashton said.
A third man, Douglas Wood, 33, from Mount Pritchard had his case for supplying a prohibited drug adjourned until today after police alleged he was caught carrying 243g of MDMA.
Police have set-up Strike Force Highworth to investigate the two deaths.
They said 13 festival-goers had gone to Nepean Hospital for treatment.
Penrith Labor councillor Greg Davies said Ms Berejeklian threat to shut down the event would penalise the revellers who did nothing wrong.
Labor candidate for Balmain Elly Howse promised her 952 Facebook followers: "If I'm elected I'll be fighting for options like pill-testing when we hold the first NSW Drug Summit in 20 years."
Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge tweeted "Pill testing saves lives, not drug dogs. End the war on drugs."
Keep Sydney Open's Tyson Koh appealed for party drugs to be regulated
"Humans have sought altered states longer than civilisation has been around, and yet here we are with the government putting people's lives in the hands of backyard manufacturers and laws that amplify unsafe consumption patterns," he said.
"We already regulate two far more damaging substances: alcohol and tobacco, and most hypocritically, the government makes an obscene amount of money from an addiction known as gambling."