'People die': Festival-bound uni grad slammed for pill stash
AN aspiring financial planner who used drugs with friends every weekend was busted with 40 MDMA capsules police believed were destined for the Big Pineapple Music Festival.
Michael Xavier Echter, 24, was arrested during a raid on his Parrearra home on May 25 last year, which Maroochydore District Court today heard was targeted at one of his friends who police believed was trafficking drugs.
Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told the court Echter was "less than helpful" after police searched his home and car and found $1960 in cash and 40 MDMA capsules, 25 of which were packaged in bags of five.
Mr Cummings told the court the drugs contained a combined 1.3 grams of pure MDMA which the defendant and his friends planned to take, likely at an upcoming music festival.
Echter pleaded guilty and was sentenced today for possessing dangerous drugs, possessing a wooden box and clip-seal bags believed to be connected with drugs, $1960 suspected of being tainted and refusing to give police the password to his phone.
Defence barrister Sarah Cartledge told the court Echter's refusal to make help police during the raid after his arrest was "misguided loyalty to his friends" and in the panic of his first police encounter.
She told the court her client had come from a family which encouraged education and "Catholic virtues", and who supported him in court alongside the boss of the financial planning firm where Echter currently worked fulltime.
Ms Cartledge said Echter had lived a "sheltered life" until he suffered an "horrific facial injury" while playing football in 2016. He underwent months of rehabilitation and re-constructive surgery.
During that time, Ms Cartledge said Echter moved from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast to be with his family.
She said the "sudden change in environment" and attempt to fit in with new friends ultimately led Echter to use drugs with mates every weekend.
Judge Glen Cash told Echter the maximum punishment for his crimes was 15 years' jail, and that drug use at festivals was potentially deadly and far too common among young people.
"You would know, not infrequently, people die of overdosing on ecstasy at music festivals," he said
"Young people like you take tablets, have a bad reaction and die as a result."
Mr Cash accepted Echter was of otherwise good character.
Ms Cartledge told the court Echter had graduated Year 12 in Victoria, before he completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University via distance education, despite his injuries.
She said since his arrest, Echter had completed a Diploma of Financial Planning and intended to complete his masters degree to become a certified financial planner.
She told the court a recorded conviction would impact on those prospects.
Ms Cartledge said since his arrest, Echter had not breached bail, had been clean of drugs and had cut ties with friends involved in the drug scene.
Echter was sentenced to one year probation with no conviction if the order is not breached.
Judge Cash said he hoped this was the first and last time Echter found himself interacting with police or the court.