Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

'Mystery woman' has disorder

Samantha Azzopardi has been in the care of health authorities in Dublin

A mystery woman found dazed, unable to communicate and later identified as an Australian cannot be committed as a psychiatric patient, a court has been told.

Samantha Azzopardi, 25, has 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.

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

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

"That condition is specified and makes her vulnerable."

Mr O'Leary said the woman is happy to stay where she is but supports are in place in adult psychiatric departments, including outside community placements.

The court was told yesterday that Ms Azzopardi may 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 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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