herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

GPO girl faces deportation from Canada

Canadian police are due to make a statement today on the girl at the centre of false sex trafficking claims in Ireland last year.

Samantha Azzopardi (25) is now being investigated by police in Calgary, Canada for similar sex abuse claims to the ones she made here a year ago.

The Australian national became known as "GPO girl" when she was found wandering bewildered in O'Connell Street last October.

She has turned up in Canada where she told police she was held prisoner for two weeks and sexually assaulted.

Cage

Policy in Calgary confirmed to the Herald that "our investigation is still underway" and said they hoped to release a statement later today.

Ms Azzopardi had told the Canadian police her name was Aurora Hepburn and had claimed she had been sexually assaulted while being held at a children's hospital.

She also claimed she had been imprisoned in a cage and is understood to have filed a missing person report about herself to the police using the false identity.

Last October Ms Azzopardi was taken into protective custody and kept under armed guard in Temple Street Hospital when she apparently convinced gardai she was a teenage sex trafficking victim from eastern European.

She spoke no English during the two weeks she was under protection and made childish drawings that suggested she had been sexually abused.

Gardai could not publish any image of her because they believed she was underage. When the High Court gave permission for the photographs to be published, relatives of Ms Azzorpardi contacted gardai.

It later emerged she had convictions in 2010 in Brisbane, Australia for making false representations and possession of forged documents. She also had previous convictions for fraud in Perth and had 40 previous aliases.

When she arrived in Ireland in September of last year, she had visited a friend of her mother's in Clonmel, Co Tipperary and had told the family she was returning to Australia.

Instead she travelled to Dublin where she was found wandering the streets in what appeared to be a disoriented state.

ALias

The garda operation, which cost hundreds of thousands of euro, eventually established her identity and in November she was sent back to Australia.

It has since emerged that she returned to Ireland in May of this year and got work as an au pair for a family in Co Letrim under another alias. She had the job for six weeks before her real identity was discovered.

She then left Ireland but it is not known how or when she travelled to Canada.

csheehy@herald.ie

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