O'Connell Street woman's life could be at risk if released from care, court told

O'Connell Street woman's life could be at risk if released from care, court told

O'Connell Street woman's life could be at risk if released from care, court told

A woman found in confused state in Dublin's O'Connell Street could be at risk if she is released from care, a court has been told.

The 25-year-old, later discovered to be an Australian, described as vulnerable and virtually unable to communicate, had been in the country for three weeks before being found.

She had been in Ireland visiting a relative before going missing.

She was found on October 10 by gardaí on routine patrol.

Her identity remained a mystery as she appeared to have very few words of English since being taken into care and drew some pictures to communicate.

Gardaí are now satisfied she is a 25-year-old Australian woman, named in Australian media reports as Samantha Azzopardi from Queensland, but said to have a number of aliases.

A High Court hearing to decide how she should be cared for has been told she has a history of psychiatric issues.

The court heard a non-direct relation, who has co-habited with someone directly related to the woman, identified her after a photograph was circulated through media worldwide yesterday.

She had stayed with the man before her disappearance.

It was initially thought the girl was aged only 14 or 15 and European.

A consultant paediatric psychiatrist who assessed the woman told the court last night he believed she was vulnerable and staff were liaising with adult services.

Barristers for the Health Service Executive (HSE), for a legal guardian appointed by the court when it was thought she was a minor, and one for the woman’s interests – also appointed by the court – raised concerns over a gap in care if an order for her treatment is lifted.

Felix McEnroy, senior counsel for the guardian, said: “If the consequences of today is that door is open and this vulnerable person walks out on the street, we could have a life at risk.”

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the initial care order - imposed when it was believed the woman was a minor - should be lifted, but not until tomorrow morning.

The delay was secured to give medics a chance to further assess her condition.

Contact between authorities in Ireland and Australia has also indicated the woman has a history of psychiatric issues.

The breakthrough in finding the woman's identity came last night, less than 10 hours after a photograph of the woman was released.

Sergeant David Gallagher, of Store Street Garda Station, said it came as a direct result of the picture being released yesterday and circulated worldwide.

"She's an Australian national and has lived there at a number of addresses," he said.

The unprecedented step to release the picture was given the go-ahead after gardaí went to the court last week and explained several weeks of investigation and 115 separate lines of inquiry turned up no leads.

Officers had been unable to get any substantive information from the woman over a period of weeks and she communicated on a number of occasions by drawing.

The investigation team contacted Interpol, the missing persons bureau, the forensic science laboratory, the domestic violence and sexual assault unit and national immigration authorities.

They also trawled city centre CCTV footage, contacted social services and homeless shelters, bed and breakfasts, hostels as well as airports and ports throughout the country.

Detectives initially came up with 15 possible names for their girl through their inquiries but they were "fully checked" and led nowhere.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed it received a request for assistance from Irish authorities through Interpol.

"The AFP, in conjunction with appropriate state police forces, are assisting Irish authorities with this request," said a spokesman.

"As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment any further."

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