Date rape drink spiking: Nelson & London

By Anna Sandiford 11/12/2010


I received a comment on a previous blog post today, one that dealt with spiking of drinks with date-rape drugs: date rape drink spiking: is it real? The entire comment was “This has happened to me and alcohol was a minor factor. I had 3 units before my drink was spiked and as for as I am aware only 2 after this. The spiking was real enough in my case and it is happening to other men like me. Diazepam showed up in the urine sample [I] gave police. It may be atypical but it’s real enough.

The reality of this crime was of course also made very real to New Zealanders last week with the arrest of a Swedish tourist after last weekend’s drink-spiking incidents in Nelson in which GHB was added to drinks, resulting in vomiting, unconsciousness and hospitalisation. GHB, gammahydroxybutyric acid, is one of the drugs most commonly linked with Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) – it has a short residence time in the body so testing for it in body fluids has to be undertaken relatively quickly. It can be detected in hair as well, taking into account the fact that the body produces it naturally. So GHB can be detected in hair samples well after the drug has been metabolised from the blood and removed through the urine.

Compared with alcohol-assisted sexual assaults, the number of DFSA cases is low. However, outbreaks of date rape drink spiking do occur and the one to which my commentator drew my attention was described by the Forensic Science Society and the London Metropolitan Police in a briefing document that describes two outbreaks over August — October 2009 and a third outbreak in June-July 2010.

Gay men were targeted in 2/3 outbreaks. No sexual assault. Phones, laptops, credit cards stolen. Rather than GHB, the drug of choice was diazepam, which has a longer residence time in the body and can therefore be detected in blood and urine samples for longer than GHB. The effects of diazepam and the speed with which the effects occur increase when taken with alcohol. In the London incidents, one woman was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment after entering a guilty plea to four cases involving heterosexual men; one man was sentenced to six years imprisonment after a trial relating to three cases involving gay men.

So, have a read of the NZ Police’s advice about how to stay safe: Drink spiking – watch yourself – watch your friends