Thursday 18 December 2014

Mystery woman Samantha Azzopardi ‘back home with her family’ after arriving in Australia

Published 09/11/2013 | 10:08

Samantha Azzopardi arrived at Sydney International Airport yesterday

MYSTERY woman Samantha Azzopardi is back with her family in Australia as police confirmed she arrived last night.

The Australian newspaper has reported that it understands Samantha “is now in the care of her family”. It is understood she arrived at Sydney International Airport this morning Australian time.

A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police could not provide any details as to whether Samantha was reunited with her family, due to “privacy provisions”.

 “I can’t provide any further details. What we are confirming is that she arrived in Australia at 7am this morning [Australian time].”

 “She hasn’t been charged with anything – she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Gardai were understood to have been liaising closely with Australian police to make arrangements for Samantha’s family to meet her at the airport.

A garda spokesperson refused to comment this morning about Samantha’s arrival.

It is understood gardai were frustrated by the waste of time and resources that went into ascertaining the identity of a woman.

The Australian police spokesperson said charges in relation to Samantha wasting police time was “a matter for the police in Ireland. That’s their call”.

It emerged earlier this week that Samantha has a previous conviction for deception in Australia, after she illegally tried to draw social welfare benefits payments.

She received a six month prison sentence, which was suspended for 12 months.

The woman was taken into HSE care after being discovered in a distressed state outside the GPO on Dublin's O'Connell Street on October 10.

Initially officers believed she was aged 14 to 16. But she is actually 25 years old.

The woman is believed to have up to 40 different aliases. She was assessed by a psychiatrist this week.

On Thursday at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham formally discharged all previous orders made by the court in respect of the woman, including orders allowing the HSE to keep her in their care.

After that, she was “a free woman” and it is understood she volunteered to return to Australia.

The Garda investigation into the matter – Operation Shepard – involved over 2,000 man hours following up some 115 lines of inquiry.

By Geraldine Gittens

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