Prue says she was warned against getting a drug test after her drink was spiked. She’s not alone


Prue McLardie-Hore says she was celebrating her 20th birthday at a bar on Melbourne’s Brunswick Street the first time she had her drink spiked.

“A man approached me at the bar, he must have said something to me — I turned my back on my drink,” she said.

“Twenty minutes later, I was outside screaming ‘I’ve been spiked, I’ve been spiked’.”

The 24-year-old Melbourne law student was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department by her mother, where she experienced hallucinations and paranoia.

“I thought I saw the man who I presumed to have spiked me in the hospital,” she said.

When Ms McLardie-Hore’s mother, Fiona, asked the hospital to drug-test her daughter, she said the nurses told her to “think carefully” about the potential consequences for Prue.

“They said if you test positive for something, that could go on your permanent record, and that can affect future job prospects in cases where you have to declare that you’ve taken drugs,” Fiona McLardie-Hore said.

“I said, but she’s been spiked, she hasn’t chosen to take this. And they just said, ‘well, you can’t prove that’.”

Employment lawyers at legal firm Maurice Blackburn have told the ABC that patient consent is usually required before any medical records can be disclosed.

Fiona, who is also a registered nurse, said she was “shocked” by the advice.

“I just thought, this has been done to her and we don’t know what she’s been given. And basically, we’re not allowed to know what was given to her,” she said.

Concerned it would derail any future career in law, Prue McLardie-Hore never ended up getting tested, nor did she report the incident to police.

“Because of the hospital’s response, I thought there would be a similar response from other institutions — I didn’t feel comfortable pursuing it,” she said.

“I was very worried that it would go against my record and potentially affect my future employment.”

In a statement, a St Vincent’s spokesperson said the hospital acknowledged the seriousness of drink spiking and tried in all suspected cases to respond with supportive medical care.

“As a hospital, we carry out toxicology screening for medical purposes, where required to determine the appropriate course of care. Toxicology results are protected by patient confidentiality,” the spokesperson said.

It would end up taking Prue more than a week to physically recover.

But just a couple of years later, when she said her drink was spiked a second time, Ms McLardie-Hore decided against going to a hospital.

Instead, she went to a private lab to get tested.

Having taken the nurse’s warning to heart, it was an off-the-books drug screening — conducted to give her peace of mind about what she’d taken, but with the added plus of not leaving an official record.

She said she tested positive for benzodiazepines, with the drug most likely to be Rohypnol.

This time around, Ms McLardie-Hore said she was “completely knocked out” after just one drink.

“I thought I had done everything that you’re supposed to do to protect yourself. And the fact that it had happened again was really upsetting,” she said.

A few days after the suspected spiking, Fiona reported the incident to police and handed over security footage from the venue, but never heard back.

Police told the ABC it was ultimately deemed “non-suspicious” by investigators.

For Kalli Horomidis, the response to her daughter’s suspected drink spiking has been similarly frustrating.

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Tomato tins drug trafficker John Higgs denied bail as he appeals against conviction


The Supreme Court has denied bail to a drug trafficker linked to police informer Nicola Gobbo, while he appeals against his conviction.

Barrister-turned-police informer Nicola Gobbo was the first lawyer to visit drug trafficker John Higgs when he was arrested for the so-called “tomato tin drug conspiracy” in 2008, the Supreme Court heard last week.

Higgs was sentenced to 18 years’ jail after he was convicted in 2012 of conspiring to smuggle 15 million ecstasy tablets — hidden in tomato tins – into Australia in 2007.

The 74-year-old is one of many prisoners appealing convictions after the Lawyer X scandal came to light.

“We are not persuaded that his prospects of success are of sufficient strength to justify his release on bail, while he still has years to serve before even his non-parole period expires,” Supreme Court Justices David Beach and Karin Emerton found.

“There is in our view nothing that could be described as ‘truly exceptional’ in the present case.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard that Ms Gobbo had been informing on Higgs – who has served nine years of his sentence — to police while acting as one of his lawyers.

David Grace, who is representing Higgs, told the court that his client’s relationship with Ms Gobbo “goes back to the 90s”.

“Their relationship was resurrected in 2006, and flowing through to his arrest in 2008, when low and behold, the first lawyer Higgs sees when arrested for the tomato tins prosecution is Gobbo,” Mr Grace said.

“Gobbo was acting for Higgs in a solicitor-client relationship.”

He said Ms Gobbo intended to “inveigle information” from Higgs that was given to her in confidence and then inform on him as “an agent for Victoria Police”.

“That puts us in the same category as [Tony] Mokbel and [Faruk] Orman,” he said.

In 2019, Faruk Orman walked free from Victoria’s Court of Appeal after his 2002 murder conviction was quashed in the wake of the scandal.

The following year, the same court quashed a cocaine trafficking conviction for drug kingpin Tony Mokbel, who remains in jail for other offences.

Ms Gobbo represented both Mokbel and Mr Orman during court hearings.

Kevin Armstrong, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that Ms Gobbo did not represent Higgs in court, and he did have “senior or experienced” barristers act on his behalf.

“It’s notable that Ms Gobbo, at no stage, appeared on the record or in any court hearing [for Higgs],” he said.

“There’s no evidence of a forensic disadvantage because of the alleged misconduct of Ms Gobbo. [Higgs] relies on, in essence, an abuse of process in terms of a perception of a miscarriage of justice.”

In response, Mr Grace told the court that Ms Gobbo did not represent Mr Orman during his murder trial – but instead represented him on an unrelated case in Queensland.

Higgs’s co-accused in the tomato tins case, Calabrian mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro and Mokbel associate Rob Karam, have also lodged appeals against their convictions.

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Horse racing news 2021: Damion Flower pleads guilty, Cocaine ring, drug importation, Sydney Airport


One of Australia’s most high-profile racehorse owners pleaded guilty on Monday to his role in a cocaine smuggling ring operating through Sydney airport.

Damion Flower, a regular fixture at Australian racetracks, admitted in a Sydney court to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and dealing with proceeds of crime.

Flower has stakes in more than 50 racehorses, including the in-demand breeding stallion Snitzel, whose progeny have earned more than $85 million in prizemoney.

His arrest in 2019 shocked Australia’s horse racing industry and Flower had initially signalled his intention to plead not guilty and go to trial.

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Inquest into suicide of paramedic to examine Ambulance Tasmania’s mental health systems and drug security


An inquest into the death of an intensive care paramedic who took his own life with drugs he had stolen from Ambulance Tasmania (AT) will reveal “shocking inadequacies”, according to the lawyer for the Australian Paramedics Association.

Damian Michael Crump died on or about December 23, 2016.

Evidence provided to the coronial investigation suggested the 36-year-old had drug abuse and mental health issues, “including suicidal plans”.

Coroner Olivia McTaggart, who is conducting the inquest, wrote that the evidence in her investigation “strongly indicates Mr Crump intentionally ended his own life by ingesting a fatal combination of drugs which he obtained without authorisation in the hours before his death from the Ambulance Tasmania drug store”.

In her ruling on the scope of the inquest, she said that there was evidence from witnesses that Mr Crump had been suffering serious mental health issues that were known to AT employees and management.

She also said there was evidence that Mr Crump had abused prescription medication before his death and that AT medication had been reported as going missing in September 2016, with Mr Crump suspected as being responsible.

The Australian Paramedics Association’s lawyer said there had been a “multi-level failure”.(

Supplied: YouTube/Tasmania Emergency Photography

)

Ms McTaggart noted that there was also evidence that AT medication had been stolen by two separate employees in 2012 and 2014 in similar circumstances to Mr Crump.

She pointed to witness evidence that there was a lack of “appropriate management, discipline and welfare support by AT for Mr Crump and other employees who might require it”.

She also wrote that there was “evidence that AT managers responsible for these areas were insufficient in number and inadequately trained”.

The Australian Paramedics Association’s lawyer Efthimia Voulcaris said there had been a “multi-level failure”.

“The material filed suggests that Ambulance Tasmania have not created a mentally healthy workplace,” she said.

“They haven’t met their responsibilities under work, health and safety laws to identify and manage psychological risk.

“They also as an employer haven’t sent a clear message to staff that they value their mental health and wellbeing.”

Ms Voulcaris said AT had not addressed “the ongoing risks that they were on notice of prior to Mr Crump’s death”.

“The inadequacies that will be made public during the inquest will be quite shocking,” she said.

“[The public] have an expectation that risk is managed better than it will be shown that it has.”

Tasmanian magistrate Olivia McTaggart
Coroner Olivia McTaggart is examining the death of Ambulance Tasmania paramedic Damian Crump.(

ABC News

)

Ms McTaggart described the investigation leading up to Mr Crump’s death as “lengthy and thorough” and dealing with numerous issues, which led to her decision to hold a public inquest.

“It may well be that significant, causal or contributing circumstances leading to Mr Crump’s death involve a failure of AT to appropriately manage him and, if necessary, discipline him or terminate his employment,” she wrote.

“Appropriate management may well have resulted in a different outcome.

“Similarly, inadequate responses by AT to the two earlier known cases of stealing medication from AT stores may have allowed Mr Crump to more easily access medication, including the fatal quantity of medication stolen before his death.

Inquest could be ‘critical in creating change’

The inquest into Mr Crump’s death will examine seven matters:

  • The circumstances surrounding his death
  • The circumstances of, and AT’s response to, the reported missing and/or unauthorised taking of drugs from AT stations in southern Tasmania in about September 2016
  • Any established systems and/or policies providing for the storage, security, access and accounting of drugs held by AT both in 2016 and at the time of the inquest
  • Any misuse of drugs by Mr Crump and other AT employees that is relevant to the inquest, including any knowledge of and response by AT
  • The investigation, internal management of and response by AT to the suspected misuse and/or theft of AT drugs by two other employees prior to Mr Crump’s death
  • Any established mental health and welfare systems or policies in place back in 2016 and at the time of this inquest
  • The capacity and ability of AT supervisors in terms of identifying and assisting employees with mental health issues, managing risks posed to staff and patients and management training provided.

Ms McTaggart wrote that in examining Mr Crump’s death it would be “appropriate to explore the nature of any such deficits or inadequacies with a view to accurately commenting upon them and/or making recommendations to prevent similar deaths”.

“The matters set out at points four to seven … are likely to be connected to Mr Crump’s death and may also reveal systemic issues within AT appropriate for such comment and recommendations.”

One ambulance parked inside Ambulance Tasmania depot.
Ambulance Tasmania’s response to reports of missing or unauthorised taking of drugs will be among the issues examined at the inquest.(

ABC News: David Hudspeth

)

Ms Voulcaris said the 2018 parliamentary inquiry into the mental health of frontline workers that resulted from Mr Crump’s death was a turning point for ambulance workers across the country.

While she said the evidence at this inquest would be relevant to ambulance services across Australia, she said she hoped it would be a pivotal moment for Tasmania.

“I think this particular inquest is going to be critical in creating change for paramedics in Tasmania,” she said.

The inquest, which began in Hobart today, is expected to take three weeks.

Ambulance Tasmania has been contacted for comment.

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Witness tells court Dru Baggaley hired him to drive the boat in alleged drug smuggling attempt


Anthony Draper gave evidence in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Wednesday, explaining his role in the alleged crime.

Olympian Nathan Baggaley and his brother Dru Baggaley have pleaded not guilty to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. 

The prosecution has alleged that in July 2018 Nathan Baggaley bought a boat for more than $100,000, along with navigation equipment and a satellite phone, and prepared it for his brother to use, including by concealing the boat’s registration.

The prosecution also alleged that he drove it to the Brunswick Heads boat ramp and planned to be there when Dru Baggaley and Mr Draper returned with the drugs and he would be responsible for storing them.

The prosecution told a jury Mr Draper and Dru Baggaley boarded the boat and travelled more than 360 kilometres offshore to meet a foreign ship.

The prosecution alleged the boat and the ship were in the middle of an “empty ocean” when the crew from the larger vessel threw black parcels containing more than 650 kilograms of cocaine to Dru Baggaley and Mr Draper.

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Adelaide drug trafficker jailed for sending 30 kilograms of cannabis through Australia Post



A former site supervisor for the Royal Adelaide Hospital construction project has been jailed for more than five years for trafficking drugs through Australia Post.

Halid Hadziefendic, 48, pleaded guilty in the SA District Court to drug trafficking and unlawful possession.

Judge Rauf Soulio said Hadziefendic’s role in the drug-trafficking syndicate was packing and posting about 30 kilograms of cannabis through Australia Post outlets and receiving payments.

Judge Soulio said he became involved after he was contacted by a family friend, who was involved in dealing cannabis, and he “felt obliged” to assist.

“You said that you did not really want to become involved because you were working and earning good money,” Judge Soulio said.

“You said you anticipated that you may be caught in the offending.

“You also involved your family and on occasion friends to assist in your offending.”

Hadziefendic posted nine packages in early 2017 to New South Wales containing vegetable matter consistent with cannabis at the Plympton and Mansfield Park Australia Post offices.

Police later found more than $15,000 in cash — including $12,000 in a pantry — at Hadziefendic’s house which matched the serial numbers of cash that police had intercepted in the post.

Officers also seized more than seven kilograms of cannabis at his home.

Trafficker ‘held no rank’

The court heard the head of the drug-trafficking operation was living in the Philippines at the time and Hadziefendic was receiving a sum of money for each pound of cannabis he posted — money he was using to buy cannabis and other drugs.

“I accept your role packing and posting cannabis interstate and collecting cash from the post office box,” Judge Soulio said.

Hadziefendic was the site supervisor at the Royal Adelaide Hospital until his arrest in May 2017.

He was also managing contracts for the Adelaide Oval and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) projects.

“Your employment was terminated following publicity surrounding your arrest,” Judge Soulio said.

He said Hadziefendic had a limited criminal history, was a hard-working family man and was unlikely to offend again.

Judge Soulio sentenced him to five-years-and-three-months’ prison with a non-parole period of two years and six months.

He found Hadziefendic was a man of good character and had undertaken rehabilitation since his offending.

He also had a very strong work ethic and had established his own successful business which provided employment to others — circumstances he considered exceptional to affix a shorter non-parole period.

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How alleged drug lord’s $225m cocaine plot was foiled



How alleged drug lord’s $225m cocaine plot was foiled

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Three arrested over alleged involvement in drug importation disguised as lollies from US


Three men have been arrested over their alleged involvement in the importation of meth and cocaine concealed in lollipops and other lollies from the US.

In November last year, the Australian Border Force intercepted three packages that arrived in Sydney from the US containing the drugs.

Officers established Strike Force Arced to investigate the importation and subsequently found a further 16 parcels containing drugs over the course of five months.

Meth disguised as lollipops that was sent to Sydney from the US. (NSW Police)

The parcels – containing 5.8kg of methylamphetamine packaged as lollipops and 655 grams of cocaine pressed as lollies – were bound for the Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Macquarie Park, Chatswood and Ryde.

The street value of the drugs is estimated to be more than $3.5 million.

Northern Beaches Police Area Commander, Superintendent Patrick Sharkey, said the manufacturing of the drugs was “sophisticated”.

The drugs were destined for the Northern Beaches, Chatswood, Macquarie Park, Ryde and Parramatta. (NSW Police)

“The manufacturing and packaging of these drugs was sophisticated and they could have easily been mistaken for the sweets they were disguised as by both children and adults,” he said.

“It is very concerning given the drugs were uncut and had a potency that could potentially cause serious injury or death if ingested.”

Following extensive investigations, Northern Beaches detectives with assistance from Operations Support Group, conducted search warrants at properties on the Northern Beaches, Sydney CBD and Ryde about 6am today.

Cash seized during the investigations. (NSW Police)

During their searches, police arrested three men, aged 21, 31 and 49, at homes in Dee Why, Macquarie Park, and Collaroy Plateau.

They were taken to Manly Police Station.

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US anti-doping chief who caught Lance Armstrong says swimmer Shayna Jack is not a drug cheat


It is early afternoon in Brisbane, and she is glancing up at the clock. Not to check her speed but because she is here on borrowed time. Jack can’t be anywhere near any swimming squads or registered coaches. Ostracised from the sport that has been her life, she has to swim alone during public hours.

Once a prodigy, now she is fighting to ever swim competitively again, her reputation in tatters.

“One day,” she tells Australian Story, “I was an elite athlete and the next day everything that I knew had been taken away from me in one moment.”

Jack’s swimming career unravelled on the eve of the 2019 World Championships, when she received the results of a routine drug test. She had tested positive to the banned substance Ligandrol.

Her coach Dean Boxall will never forget that day, saying Jack was “hysterical”.

“Shayna couldn’t talk … she basically knew what this means, what this means to fail the drug test — you’re out,” he says.

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Twenty arrests as police smash Fortitude Valley, New Farm drug ring


Police have arrested 20 people and laid hundreds of charges after an investigation into a Brisbane drug-trafficking network.

Detectives seized cash, drugs and property valued at more than $1 million and laid 303 charges as part of the 12-month Operation Sierra Virtuous.

The investigation focused on what police described as a “well-organised drug trafficking network” operating across Fortitude Valley, New Farm and greater Brisbane.

Of the 20 arrests, seven people were charged with trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine.

Police said members of the syndicate allegedly used licensed clubs and restaurants in the entertainment precincts to supply drugs.

A total of 15 search warrants were executed in the past two days, resulting in 10 men and women aged between 25 and 55 being arrested.

Detective Inspector Glen Farmer of the City Valley Crime Group said the operation had been a major disruption to a well-organised cocaine drug supply network in Fortitude Valley and New Farm.

Inspector Farmer said the operation showed how drug traffickers sought to “cause harm by supplying illicit substances”.

“The operation has been a success on many levels,” he said.

“The arrest of the drug syndicate members, their associates and the seizure of drugs linked to the network has created a safer environment on our streets.”

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