The Offence of Drink Spiking in New South Wales

by Sonia Hickey
Night club

With vaccination rates high and people starting to go out and socialise again, sinister reports of women being injected by mystery substances in popular night spots have emerged in New South Wales.

At least six women have come forward to NSW Police after finding needle marks in their bodies after a night out.

For now, the predator or predators seem to be targeting women in Newcastle with at least two incidents linked to the King Street Hotel, and one linked to the Hamilton Hotel.

At least one woman became seriously ill and later lost consciousness before being hospitalised.

Her memories of the night out are hazy, but she says she remembers an ‘unknown’ man hanging around trying to touch her body as she was feeling unsteady on her feet and unable to focus clearly.

The next day, she noticed a needle mark surrounded by a bruise on her body, and suspected she had been injected with a drug.

Designer drugs and ‘date-rape drugs can be injected

It appears that the old adage ‘safety in numbers’ doesn’t necessarily apply.

The young woman was out with a group of 11 friends to celebrate an 18th birthday and still found herself targeted.

However, it was thanks to her friends that she did get home safely and was able to seek medical treatment.

Toxicologists say that many designer drugs and ‘date-rape’ drugs such as benzo-diazepam, which are like roofies or Rohypnol can be injected and when combined with alcohol they can seriously affect memory recall.

What to do if you suspect you have been injected

If you suspect you have been injected you need to seek medical help as soon as possible. If you can provide a urine sample while the drugs are still present in your system, then it makes identifying them much easier.

Toxicology reports for the woman who was injected last week are not yet complete, but the young woman has been ordered to take antiviral medication for the next six months to protect her from diseases such as HIV.

Police are scouring CCTV footage and urging witnesses and any other victims to come forward to assist their investigation.

The issue of “needle spiking” has been making headlines in the UK for some time, with almost 700 reports of injection incidents made to police since September 2021.

Women have been the majority of victims and several people have been arrested.

There’s no doubt the injecting incidents have left young women terrified for their own safety, scared to go out to pubs and clubs. While most establishments do their best to ensure patron safety, predators, particularly predators who target women, are everywhere.

While the ‘safety’ of women in our society, has been front and centre of the #metoo movement over the past few years, we still have a long way to go towards ensuring that violence against women is eradicated across society.

Needle spiking is a relatively new phenomenon, but drink and food spiking have been a growing concern in Australian bars and clubs for years before the onset of COVID-19.

Drink and Food Spiking in New South Wales

Spiking Drink or Food is an offence under Section 38A of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You caused another person to be given or consume drink or food,
  2. That drink or food contained an intoxicating substance of which the other person was unaware, or contained more of an intoxicating substance than the other person would expect it to contain, and
  3. You intended the other person to be harmed by the substance.

‘Harm’ includes includes any impairment of the senses or understanding which might reasonably be objected to in the circumstances.

‘Impairment’ includes to further impair.

Causing the drink or food to be given includes:

  1. Preparing it for the other person, or
  2. Making it available for the other person to consume.

You are not guilty if you had reasonable cause to believe the other person would not have objected to consuming the drink or food if he or she had known of the presence and quantity of the intoxicating substance.

Using an intoxicating substance during dental, medical or other health professional practice is not an offence under the section.

Defences to the charge include self-defence, duress and necessity.

Going to court?

If you have been accused of a criminal offence and are going to court, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime for a free first conference with an experienced defence lawyer from Australia’s most awarded and respected criminal defence law firm.

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Author

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Autumn 2021.

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