Co Laois student invents anti-drink tampering device after witnessing spiking first hand

'It's primarily women who are sexually assaulted through spiking'
Alex Kelly shared her design

Alex Kelly shared her design

Eugene Masterson

A student who has invented a homemade anti-drink tampering device reveals she made it to help herself and her friends.

Alex Kelly (25) says she has witnessed people she knows having their drinks spiked, and in one case had to bring a pal to hospital.

The Carlow IT student was prompted to make her invention after a recent night out.

"Me and my friend went out the night of Halloween," explains marketing student Alex, who is from Ballickmoyer, Co Laois.

"It was our first night out since going back to college. We were having a girl's night out, just the two of us. We headed out to town. About an hour into our night we saw a girl being carried out of the venue, that she had been spiked.

"Her friends were distraught. It was alarming. We started to feel uneasy. So we texted one of our friends to ask him if he could join us after his work shift, just to have a man with us to make us feel more at ease. He came out after his work shift and we had a grand night."

Alex’s drink protector

Alex’s drink protector

Model Thalia Heffernan recently spoke about how she was spiked, and Alex is naturally concerned after her safety.

"At the moment it's heightened because bars are only after opening back up and nightlife is only coming back," she points out.

"This issue has been around for too long. I only have one friend that hasn't been spiked. I haven't been spiked myself.

"I have friends that have had similar experiences. We've been out and next thing you notice one of your friends, that they're literally not themselves - it's like somebody flipped a switch because it happened so quickly.

"It's not that you can confuse it with being drunk," she insists. "It's not that 'maybe she's had one too many to drink'. It's a different sort. They are a floppy person.

"When my friend was spiked one night I wasn't actually out with her, she was out with a different group of friends, and I came across her on the floor of the nightclub.

"Obviously people had been walking by going 'oh she's drunk'. When I walked by I knew my friend and I knew that's not how she carries on, she doesn't get that drunk to like let herself get out of control or anything like that, to let her guard down, but that night she had been spiked.

"I found her near the bathroom, she was on the way and stumbled on the floor. Somebody was helping her up. I brought her to A&E and she got a tox [toxicology] screen.

"Some of them aren't even traced on tox screening. Sometimes you can even get spiked with alcohol, like somebody giving you a double to triple vodka instead of a single vodka, but most of the time it's a concoction of drugs."

Alex's drink protector is simple, but effective

Alex's drink protector is simple, but effective

Alex maintains it's not just women being targeted.

"It's not only sexual assault," she says. "It's not even girls. It's men as well. I know more than one report of lads who are spiked and robbed. If you're going around and they see you with flashy clothes or a full wallet, they'd go 'oh we'll spike him and rob him'. There have been reports of some men being spiked and sexually assaulted.

"But it's primarily women who are sexually assaulted through spiking."

Alex started thinking about what she could do to feel safer, and came up with her deign to protect drinks.

"It's just made of cardboard. I wanted to make it out of something that everybody has in their home. I made enough for me and my friends to be able to go out. But then I was thinking 'it's fine for me and my friends to have them, but what everybody else?' I can't make enough for everybody else, so that's why I shared the design. I have it on my website and the students' union in the college, I gave the design to them as well so they are making them for the bars in Carlow," she adds.

The design is on her website

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