‘Vulnerable’ mystery woman returns to Australia

A mystery woman found in Ireland dazed and unable to communicate, who was later identified as an Australian, is on her way home.

Samantha Azzopardi, 25, described as vulnerable, had been in hospital in Dublin since concerns were raised that she was an Eastern European teenager who had been trafficked into the country.

Gardaí confirmed last night she was on her way back to Australia. “In consultation with all of the relevant authorities, An Garda Síochána have facilitated Ms Samantha Azzopardi’s repatriation with a view to reuniting her with her family and the authorities in Australia.”

Ms Azzopardi originally came to Ireland in September to visit her stepfather. She stayed with him for a while in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, but it is understood she then told him she was going travelling around the country.

The blonde-haired woman turned up three weeks later on O’Connell Street in Dublin, appearing distressed and unable to communicate. Authorities thought she was Eastern European and only about 15. It had been thought that she had been the victim of trafficking.

Ms Azzopardi was described as thin, dressed in clothes bought from a common, high-street retailer and appearing dazed and confused. She drew pictures during her time in care but did not communicate fully.

An investigation team tasked with trying to identify her spent 2,000 hours on the case, came up with 15 possible names, looked at 115 lines of inquiry and used Interpol, the missing persons bureau, forensics, domestic violence and sexual assault units and national immigration authorities, all in vain.

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.

It was not until a judge cleared the way for a photograph of the woman to be released worldwide that her stepfather come forward.

Australian Federal Police liaised with gardaí, once her identity was established within a matter of hours on Tuesday.

The High Court in Dublin yesterday heard from psychiatrist Brendan Kelly, who said she could not be committed for psychiatric reasons but was suffering from a “specified particular condition”.

It had previously heard she could be at risk if she is released from care.


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