Irish News

Thursday 31 July 2014

'Mystery girl' on way home to Australia as more details of troubled past emerge

Published 08/11/2013|02:00

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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
Pastor Brad Blacker

THE mystery woman found in a distressed state outside the GPO in Dublin is on her way home to Australia accompanied by two garda officers.

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Samantha Azzopardi (25), who was originally thought to have been a teenage victim of human traffickers, last night boarded a plane after a High Court case over her care ended.

As it emerged that Ms Azzopardi has convictions for fraud offences in Australia and has up to 40 different aliases, more details about her difficult past resurfaced.

Ms Azzopardi spoke only broken English and communicated through drawings after she was found in a dazed condition on Dublin's O'Connell St in mid-October.

Gardai spent 2,000 hours trying to establish who she was, before a family acquaintance came forward to identify her after the High Court granted officers permission to release a photograph.

The High Court yesterday heard how Ms Azzopardi would be at risk if she was released from care – with HSE lawyer Tim O'Leary saying that she has a "particular condition" that "makes her vulnerable".

But lifting the care order, Mr Justice George Bermingham said: "The case has run its course".

Later in the evening, gardai announced she was being repatriated to her family in Australia. Meanwhile, some of those that know her have spoken about her case.

SHOCK

A pastor, whose family she lived with in Sydney in 2011, has spoken of his shock that she ended up in Ireland and how he hopes she "finds help".

Brad Blacker told Australia's ABC news how he first met Ms Azzopardi in 2011. She told him her name was 'Dakota' and she was 14 and wanted to attend his church.

He said: "So she came and while she was there, she opened up about some serious allegations of things that had happened to her in her past and said she feared to go home.

"We decided to provide her with some accommodation and try and help out".

He said that she developed "a strong emotional dependency, especially on my wife, constantly wanting her attention".

According to Mr Blacker, the dependency she displayed "showed that there must be something traumatic that has happened in her life that has triggered that for her".

A former boss at a Sydney restaurant, Chris Nunes, also recognised the young woman and described her as "lovely girl" who "had some issues".

Elsewhere it was reported Ms Azzopardi has convictions in Brisbane over false representations and forgery dating from 2010.

Her most recent court appearance was in October, 2012, when she was convicted of fraud and deception offences for claiming benefits she was not entitled to.

by Cormac McQuinn

Irish Independent

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