hard to believe | 

'GPO Girl' says she has no memory of pretending to be teen victim of sex assault

Azzopardi came to international attention nine years ago when gardai released a photo of a mysterious young woman found in Dublin who was apparently unable to speak English

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A woman dubbed the ‘GPO Girl’ after she was found wandering on O'Connell Street in 2013 has told a psychiatrist she has no memory of posing as a teenage victim of sex assault.

Australian woman Samantha Azzopardi has been ordered to serve a three-year community corrections order at the Picton Court, southwest of Sydney, for her latest crimes.

The 33-year-old, who pleaded guilty to two counts of making false representations, has avoided jail but has been told undergo mental health treatment or risk having to go back to court.

Azzopardi first came to international attention nine years ago when gardai released a photo of a mysterious young woman found in Dublin who was apparently unable to speak English.

She was outed as a serial con-woman when gardaí secured High Court permission to release her photograph and a family member soon came forward to identify Azzopardi.

She was deported but has since fallen foul of the law in Canada and later faced serious criminal charges in her native Australia.

She was jailed for two years last year in Australia after pleading guilty to a string of offences including child stealing, theft and obtaining property by deception.

In a new psychiatric report tendered to the court, she claimed she had no memory of the latest crimes.

"Holy crap, it's as if my day was wiped out when the police said I did something and that I could go to jail again," she said to the psychiatrist.

"It's all very hard to believe."

Azzopardi claimed she was a teenager in a cult when she spoke to a youth worker at Youth off the Streets in November last year.

She claimed she was 16 and her parents sent her from Brisbane to a man who sexually assaulted her, took photos and held her captive.

In a bid to escape the man, she told the youth worker, she slept in Sydney's Hyde Park but returned because of bad weather, according to the documents.

A police investigation started on November 22 after the youth worker reported it to the Child Protection Helpline.

But when Azzopardi – using the alias Eleanor Harris – was due to meet with police, she changed her mind and was dropped off at an address in Rushcutters Bay.

When police checked the address, the mysterious man did not live there and neither did the "teenager".

A week later, she went to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and told a doctor a similar tale of sexual abuse, claiming she was 16, adding she was injected with a fertility drug against her wishes.

The fraudster fled the hospital before she could be examined.

The woman was arrested in December after she again called a youth worker.

The magistrate said her crimes were serious, could drain resources and cost thousands in relation to investigations.

"These offences are founded in lies," he said.

"All people have the capacity to lie, it's quite common."

"This court has to determine whether the offender in this particular case was impacted by the condition she was living with or is she just a liar … who disrupts the community to a great extent," the magistrate said.

He accepted she was diagnosed with mental health issues, including a severe personality disorder, but noted she "has a capacity to commit serious offences" because of her criminal history.

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