Sunday 1 February 2015

'Mystery woman' allowed by gardai to return to Australia

Published 07/11/2013 | 11:20

Superintendent David Taylor of the Garda Press Office and Orla Ryan, Guardian Ad Litem of the girl with a Garda hand out picture of the Australian woman

THE mystery woman found in Ireland dazed and unable to communicate has been allowed to return to her family in Australia.

Samantha Azzopardi, 25, had been in the care of health authorities in Dublin since concerns were raised that was she an Eastern European teenager who had been trafficked in to the country.

However, gardai announced that they had agreed to her request to be returned to her family in Australia and she flew out this evening with two garda escorts. She was expected to be met by family in Australia.

A statement said: "In consultation with all of the relevant authorities, An Garda Siochana have facilitated Ms Samantha Azzopardi's request for repatriation with a view to reuniting her with her family and the authorities in Australia."

The High Court in Dublin heard yesterday that psychiatrist Brendan Kelly found she is not suffering from a disorder classed under the Mental Health Act in Ireland.

"She has a particular condition," said Tim O'Leary, a lawyer for the Health Service Executive.

"That condition is specified and makes her vulnerable."

The court was told yesterday that Ms Azzopardi would be at risk if she is released from care.

She had been in Ireland visiting a relative before going missing and being found on Dublin's O'Connell Street in a distressed state on October 10.

She was only identified on Tuesday evening after a worldwide police appeal and a photograph of her was released.

Ms Azzopardi's stepfather, from Clonmel in Co Tipperary, came forward to identify her following the media appeal.

She had been staying with him for three weeks up to the day she was found by gardai wandering on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, on October 10.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who lifted an HSE care order she was being held under, said everyone initially believed they were dealing with a minor who could have been a victim of trafficking.

He said the initiative taken by gardai and results of publishing of the photograph came as a shock and surprise to everybody.

"The case has run its course," the judge said.

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