Missing ‘teenage girl’ found in Dublin identified as 25-year-old Australian
Court hears she is ‘very vulnerable’ with possible history of psychiatric illness
The young woman who was found in O’Connell Street, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Eric Luke
A woman found in a distressed state by gardaí on O’Connell Street in Dublin last month has been identified as a 25-year-old Australian who was staying with relatives in Co Tipperary until shortly before she went missing.
The High Court heard yesterday that she was “very vulnerable” and initial indications were she had a history of psychiatric difficulties.
She had been staying with a relative in Co Tipperary up to the day she was discovered in the city.
The woman has been in State care since she was found on October 10th, on the basis that authorities suspected she was a minor aged between 14 and 15 who had possibly been trafficked into the country.
The woman has not spoken to medical staff in the hospital where she was being treated or to gardaí, but has communicated by drawing pictures.
Lawyers for the HSE, the Garda and her legally appointed guardian yesterday asked the court to leave in place orders allowing social services to keep the woman in care, pending an assessment by a psychiatrist.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said he was prepared to discharge the care orders, but in the interests of the woman was placing a stay on the discharge until today, when the matter will return before the courts.
He said his decision to discharge the care orders did not preclude the HSE from seeking further orders in respect of the woman.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed yesterday it was assisting gardaí with inquiries.
“The AFP, in conjunction with appropriate state police forces, are assisting Irish authorities with this request,” said a spokesman.
Local media in Australia reported yesterday that the woman was known to authorities under a variety of different aliases, but police refused to comment on these reports.
Her family is understood to be preparing to travel to Ireland from Australia.
Gardaí took the unusual step of releasing the woman’s photograph on Monday after several weeks of investigations.
A breakthrough in finding the woman’s identity came on Tuesday, less than 10 hours after her photograph was released.
Sgt Gallagher, who is attached to Store Street Garda station, said it came as a direct result of the picture being circulated worldwide.
“She’s an Australian national and has lived there at a number of addresses,” he told the court.
The court heard that a man, who has lived with someone directly related to the woman, identified the 25-year-old after her photograph was circulated in the media.
The woman had stayed with the man before her disappearance.
Much of the High Court proceedings centred on what was the most appropriate step to take, given that the woman was not a minor but remained clearly vulnerable.
Felix McEnroy SC, for the woman’s court-appointed guardian, warned that allowing the woman to leave where she was currently in care could “put her life at risk”.
In his evidence, Sgt Gallagher said there were indications she had psychiatric issues. He agreed that the girl was “a vulnerable individual.”
Consultant child psychiatrist Dr Brian Houlihan said that the young woman had displayed signs of someone with a difficult past.
It was important for those treating her to have sight of her medical history, he added.
The judge added he was satisfied to discharge an order, granted earlier this week, which would have allowed doctors force-feed the woman.
Doctors treating her had become concerned because she was not eating.
However, the court heard they did not need to force-feed her, as she had started eating and drinking.