Kate Dempsey from Newbridge has spoken about the effects of her ordeal. Picture: Aishling Conway/Leinster Leader/KildareNow.com
A young Newbridge woman, who claims her drink was spiked in a local venue and who subsequently had to get treatment at Naas Hospital, said the experience has made her fearful of socialising again.
Gardaí are investigating the incident of alleged drink spiking, which occurred on Saturday, March 12, at McGowan’s in Newbridge.
McGowan's pub in Newbridge. Pic: McGowan's via Facebook
Gardaí confirmed that they received a report 'of one alleged incident at a premises in Newbridge on Saturday, March 12, 2022, and continue to conduct enquiries to establish the nature of this incident.'
McGowan’s, in an initial statement, said that it was 'most troubling that reports have been circulating on social media'. They subsequently stated that an injured party had reached out to them, and said that they would be delighted to collaborate with them in raising awareness of spiking incidents.
Kate Dempsey (20), who claimed to have had her drink spiked, said that she arrived at the pub at around 9.30pm on the night in question with a friend, and later met with two other friends in the venue.
She said that she has no memory of what happened to her between 11.30pm and 5am.
Ms Dempsey explained: "It was more so my friends that copped that something was wrong, when my eyes started rolling in the back of my head… and then the seizures which happened at around 3.25am."
She added that she was then brought to Naas General Hospital, where she was treated at around 5.45am.
Ms Dempsey said that for a period towards the end of her ordeal, she was fully aware of what was happening to her, who was around and what people were saying, but she had no control over her body.
She initially told her story on a widely-read Instagram post on March 16.
"Prior to the incident, I didn’t know of anyone personally who had been spiked, but once I made the [Instagram] post, I received a number of comments from people telling me about their own experiences of being spiked.
"Three or four men came forward, although the vast majority of them were women," she added.
Ms Dempsey also praised the support she has received from her friends and family, as well as from the staff at Naas General Hospital and gardaí.
However, she said that the alleged incident has made her feel 'both mentally and physically drained'.
"I am 20 years of age and unsure when I will ever want to go out again, because of what this person has decided to do; I have been feeling paranoid and nauseous," Ms Dempsey said.
As for what steps she would like to see being implemented in nightclubs, Ms Dempsey suggested a number of procedures, including searching bags, not allowing drinks on the dancefloor, capping numbers of attendees, and hiring more bouncers.
She also pointed to a product called NightCap, which acts as a cap for a drink that only allows for room for a straw.
When asked what advice she would give to her peers, she urged them to 'stick with the group you came in with; it’s OK to socialise, but make sure to stick with them.'
"The world is a scary place out there, unfortunately… young people need to know the signs of spiking, for their own safety, and it is important that young people should be cautious, but not afraid, when going out," Ms Dempsey added.
When asked about Ms Dempsey’s post, Michael McGowan of McGowan’s pub said in an initial statement: "It is most troubling that reports have been circulating on social media” regarding alleged drink spiking at the premises.
"We are acutely aware that offenders operate in a discreet, nefarious and cunning manner; we encourage any and all injured parties and witnesses to reach out to us, so that we can investigate the matter fully and assist in apprehending any offender(s)."
Mr McGowan further said: "Following that discussion and having reviewed the HSE advice, we would implore all of our customers to immediately seek the assistance of our staff, local medical authorities and An Garda Síochana should they suspect that a spiking incident has occurred.
"This will allow the immediate apprehension of the perpetrator of the assault."
He also said that all staff 'are committed to ensuring that every customer has a safe and enjoyable experience at McGowan’s of Newbridge'.
Following contact between Ms Dempsey and the pub, McGowan's subsequently issued a further statement, saying that they would be organising an 'awareness and fundraising night' in conjunction with An Garda Síochana and local representatives for the benefit of Naas General Hospital.
"One injured party has recently reached out to us. We are delighted and sincerely commend her for making contact with our establishment. We are most hopeful that she will be in a position to provide us with information that assists our investigation and ultimately, apprehend the perpetrator(s).
"We have been operating in an information vacuum, for the past fortnight. No other injured parties or witnesses have made themselves known to us. Once again, we implore any and all witnesses to reach out to us.
"We are further delighted to collaborate with this injured party in raising awareness in respect of spiking incidents.
"Our establishment and this injured party have common goals – to make socialising safe and enjoyable for all.
A spokesperson for Naas General Hospital also said about the alleged incident: "The hospital does not comment on individual matters."
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