Australia

Australian teen swallowed pills 'to avoid detection', inquest hears

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An inquest has begun in Sydney into the suspected drug-related deaths of six young people at NSW music festivals over two years.

A 19-year-girl from the NSW Central Coast who died after an ecstasy (MDMA) overdose took up to three pills in close proximity to avoid detection by police, a Sydney inquest has heard.

Alexandra Ross-King's death is one of six at NSW music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019 being examined at an inquest before Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.

Nathan Tran, Diana Nguyen, Joseph Pham, Callum Brosnan and Joshua Tam, who also died after consuming illicit drugs, were all aged between 18 and 23.

Joshua Tam, Hoang Nathan Tran and Diana Nguyen.
Joshua Tam, Hoang Nathan Tran and Diana Nguyen.
Supplied

Counsel assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer, said autopsy reports indicated all six died as a result of MDMA toxicity or complications from MDMA use.

They also exhibited high body temperatures - above 41C in some cases - respiratory problems, muscle and jaw spasms and out-of-character aggression.

She said Ms Ross-King consumed two half-pills on her journey from the Central Coast in a mini bus to Parramatta Park earlier this year and two more pills upon her arrival.

"The January FOMO festival involved an unusual pattern of consumption for her," Dr Dwyer said at the NSW Coroners Court in Lidcombe on Monday.

"She told her friends that because she was nervous about being caught by the police, she took the drugs at once like that."

Dr Dwyer said the inquest will attempt to identify the common themes as to the cause of deaths and lessons as to how they might have been prevented.

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How pill testing works
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"In this courtroom there is no judgment of the young people themselves," she said.

"These six young people were beautiful souls who have been lost to us. Without exception, they were talented, social and community-minded."

Their deaths came as an incredible shock to their parents who were not aware of their child's interest in drugs, she said.

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Ms Grahame offered her condolences to the families of the deceased.

"These are your children but they could just as easily be the children of my own community or my own family," she said.

"They could be any young people who go to music festivals and partake in drugs as many young people do.

"These are our young people ... and we owe them a proper investigation of the circumstances in which they died."

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