Woman hides 1600 MDMA caps 'down there' and in a ‘big bra’
A young woman who smuggled almost 1600 MDMA caps internally and in her bra to a Sydney music festival could have bartered her own price for "40 freebie" tablets promised her, a court has heard.
Grace Poo is being sentenced in a Sydney court for smuggling 1597 capsules in a specially-bought "huge bra" and "downstairs" to the gates of the Midnight Mafia music festival in May 2018.
During a sentencing hearing in Penrith District Court today, Judge Graeme Turnbull told Poo's defence lawyer that the young woman's crimes were serious and showed a degree of planning.
"I am going to warn you here, I am going to proceed on the basis of what she has done," Judge Turnbull told barrister Siobhain Climo.
"There's an agreement to bring in drugs, on behalf of a number of others, in a bra and in the vagina.
"They're packaged in certain ways and they are labelled in certain ways … for distribution.
"This is for a monetary amount, a ticket plus 40 tablets for herself and she has been involved in the collection herself of the drugs.
"This is above low level in planning and arrangement and has some sophistication. She did get a bigger bra.
"This is not a case of a bunch of mates each with a couple of pills … putting them in a sandwich bag and getting them through."
Mr Turnbull told the court that Poo's "40 freebies", the MDMA tablets promised to her if she successfully smuggled the drugs into the festival "weren't all for personal use".
"There is some evidence there was an intention to sell … an amount," he said.
"If she's going to sell them for money, it must be she can negotiate the price, because they are freebies.
"It's a commercial enterprise.
"If the tablets got past security … then there would be all sorts of bartering going on.
"They might be more expensive in the morning than in the evening.
"She may well be a courier, but at the end of the day this is not a spontaneous shoving of a grab bag of pills down the pants or in your bra."
Mr Turnbull was responding to submissions by Ms Climo that Poo should avoid being sent to prison because she was vulnerable and had shown signs of rehabilitation under psychological counselling since her arrest last year.
Ms Climo said Poo had heard voices while smoking cannabis, her mother was a gambling addict with mental health problems, and the pair had been homeless about a year before the crime.
Poo, a 23-year-old former child care worker, was arrested after a sniffer dog targeted her before entering the Midnight Mafia Festival around 4pm on May 5, 2018.
Initially she denied having drugs but conceded to an officer "OK, I have a lot of MDMA … in my top and some inside of me".
She pleaded guilty in January this year to supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited plant.
She is being sentenced with her co-accused, Julian Martusciello, 26, who has pleaded guilty to drug supply after providing Poo with 213 of the capsules police found on her.
Martusciello, from Chester Hill, pleaded guilty to supplying 213 of the capsules of methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine police found on Poo and of knowingly taking part in the supply of 230 capsules, or 26.22 grams, at the festival at Sydney's Olympic Park.
Martusciello had attended the festival and handled some of the capsules himself, but he did not carry them into the festival.
Police facts reveal that in messages between Poo and Martusciello before the drug smuggling attempt, he had advised her she would need a "big bra … for sure" in order to carry the packages into the festival.
He initially suggested she take "2 [packages] left boob, 2 right boob and a small one downstairs".
Martusciello wrote to Poo on Facebook Messenger: "Hey grace keep this Saturday free please. For MM … split some downstairs and some each boob."
Poo wrote to him: "Just bought myself a huge bra so I'm all set." and also "As long as can fit downstairs".
NSW DPP Prosecutor Burton Ko told the court on Thursday evidence in texts or online messages showed Poo had been involved in a previous drug transaction, seven months before her arrest at the Midnight Mafia event.
Ms Climo told the court Poo had seen a psychiatrist, a psychologist and had "clean results from urinalysis" since undergoing rehab since her arrest.
Mr Turnbull said Poo was not charged in relation to the online conversations allegedly about drugs in November 2017.
But he said he was struggling with the suggestion Poo had a mental health condition which reduced her moral culpability in the drug smuggling crime.
"My impression is she has no current psychiatric illness," Mr Turnbull said.
He said symptoms of a psychotic disorder after her arrest might have been from cannabis use, and that he had an obligation to the community to see Poo's punishment fitted the crime.
Ms Climo told the court that Poo had also suffered the "extra curial punishment" because of her "naming and shaming" by the media.
Poo has been photographed and filmed at court appearances, usually with an umbrella or item of clothing above her face or head.
Ms Climo said Poo had suffered because of "the depiction of her face, the way in which the drugs were concealed, the fact they were secreted internally" and stories which portrayed "that she is effectively a large scale drug dealer".
Judge Turnbull said he thought some of the media portrayals of Poo had been "quite sympathetic … talking about crime bosses grooming young women".
"The starting point has to be you commit an offence," Mr Turnbull said.
"The press have statutory access to court files … which seems to me an inevitable consequence of our democracy.
"I am just wondering if naming and shaming is going to be enough and … I am struggling."
The court heard from a former Salvation Army case officer, Colin Young, that Poo had been couch surfing at the homes of friends and that her mother had been given temporary accommodation in 2017.
Mr Young said Poo had been "destitute financially" in the year before the drug offence, but that she had since been put on Centrelink payments and found assisted housing.
Sentencing hearings continue before Judge Turnbull this afternoon, but he indicated he will not pass final sentence on the two co-offenders until next week.