Garda probe | 

Gardaí launch investigation into suspected needle assault in Letterkenny

'It is understood a female was injured when she intervened in an altercation between a number of persons'
Gardai are investigating after a woman was reportedly spiked with a needle in Letterkenny

Gardai are investigating after a woman was reportedly spiked with a needle in Letterkenny

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Gardaí have said they are investigating an incident in Letterkenny, Co Donegal last Sunday after a woman was injured when she intervened in an altercation between a number of people.

It was reported that the woman was stabbed with a needle, and although it is not believed to be an incident of “needle spiking”, gardaí have confirmed that they are treating the matter as an assault.

“Gardaí are investigating an incident of assault that occurred at a premises in Letterkenny, Co Donegal on December 19,” they said.

“It is understood a female was injured when she intervened in an altercation between a number of persons.

“Investigations are ongoing."

Earlier this month, a young local mother told Donegal Live about the dangers of spiking after she found herself very sick and unable to recall the evens of a night out in Letterkenny after being jabbed with a needle.

Kerry McGarrigle (23) had said: “I would say about eight different people texted me to say the exact same thing happened to them. It is happening a lot. The amount of people who it is happening to is unbelievable.”

Reports of alleged needle spiking incidents have been on the rise across the country in recent weeks.

Famous faces such as Bonnie and Lottie Ryan, as well as model Thalia Heffernan and TikTok star Nia Gallagher have all come forward to share their spiking stories.

Last month, the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) advised people who believe they may have been spiked but are not unwell to go to gardai as opposed to the Emergency Department.

The Association says that despite recent reports, Irish Emergency Departments reveal that the number of such incidents are “few.”

“There has been extensive media coverage about incidents of ‘spiking’ where members of the public feel they have been injured with a sharp implement such as a needle and the understandable worry is that a toxic substance may have been administered,” a spokesperson said.

“The experience of Irish Emergency Departments (EDs) has been that such incidents are relatively few.”

“In general, they are very low risk for the transmission of a blood-borne infection.”

The spokesperson said that while emergency departments are there to ensure unwell patients receive the emergency care they require, they have “no role” in situations where a victim or potential victim of such an incident is not unwell as a result of a suspected spiking.

They also said that they cannot perform any tests to determine what a person was spiked with unless they are ill.

“Suggestions that various ‘tests’ can be carried out to ascertain what, if any, substance has been (administered) are ill-informed as the only purpose of toxicology tests in the ED is to assist treatment in those who are acutely unwell.”

“Management of needle-stick injuries includes a detailed assessment of the risk of transmission of serious bloodborne infection. The risk of the transmission of a blood-borne infection in the kind of ’spiking’ incidents being reported is remote and therefore the public should be reassured that this is not something to be concerned about.”

The spokesperson went on to clarify that it is unnecessary to go to A&E “where a person feels that they may have sustained such an injury" but are feeling well.

Such incidents, they say, should be reported promptly to gardai instead.

“Where a victim of such an incident is acutely unwell, the Emergency Services should be contacted in the usual way and such patients will be brought to the ED for further medical management," the spokesperson added.

Advice provided by the HSE to the public on drink spiking and date rape drugs states that the first thing to do is to tell someone you trust such as a close friend, relative, medic or Garda.

They recommend getting to a safe place, and if in urgent need of help to call 999. They also advise to be wary of accepting help from a stranger or someone you do not know.

If you are unwell, the HSE says to get someone you trust to take you to your nearest emergency department, and to report the incident to gardai.

Irish model Thalia Heffernan recently told how she was spiked as a teenager on Claire Byrne Live.

“I was given a drink by somebody I didn't know and foolishly, in hindsight now, I took the drink," she recalled.

"I was immediately sick, right there in the bar, and I knew something was wrong. I had taken enough of the drink for it to take effect quite suddenly,” she said.

Thalia explained that within 15 minutes she lost the feeling in her legs and couldn’t speak. Someone put her into a taxi and sent her home.

“I couldn't get the money out of my bag at the time and he left me near enough to my house, with no phone and no awareness, [I was] getting sick at the side of the road,” Thalia explained.

The next morning she said she woke up and felt ashamed, and didn't tell anyone about what happened. She only told her mother about the incident while on her way to RTE to record the show.

“When I heard about the recent accounts and the recent spiking around here and in the UK, I felt obliged to tell my own story," she added.


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