A serial conwoman who once falsely led gardaí to imagine she was a victim of human trafficking has been jailed in Australia for lying to police that she was an abused 14-year-old French girl.
In 2013, Samantha Azzopardi made headlines here when gardaí found what they believed to be a distressed teenage girl wandering around outside the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
Azzopardi, also often known as ‘Indie O’Shea’, spent 4 weeks in Temple Street Hospital before the reality emerged that she was actually a 25-year-old Australian woman who had come to Ireland on a fake passport.
The now 33-year-old compulsive liar’s a centesimal charge was ordered at Waverley Local Court in Recent South Wales yesterday.
Azzopardi will spend a maximum of 17 months behind bars for misleading police by pretending to be a French teenager last August. On the time, she was also on a community corrections order for an identical offence.
Contacting religious charity Jewish House, she said she was called Enslie Cohen and had been a victim of abuse.
This caused a five-hour search by multiple agencies around Sydney’s eastern suburbs to search out her fictitious foster family’s home.
While claiming she spoke only French, she refused to speak with a French-speaking police officer. A canny case employee spotted elements on this con that were much like prior stories from Azzopardi.
Waverley police say she has been charged 100 times in Australia, mainly for fraud and deception related offences.
‘It is obvious that the accused is a compulsive liar and suffers from several mental health issues which little doubt is a catalyst for her offending,’ a press release said.
Azzopardi’s Irish con was the topic of an RTE radio documentary last month, entitled ‘Girl on the GPO’.
After she was found on the GPO, gardaí took her to Temple Street Children’s Hospital to have her medically assessed, but after they questioned her about her identity, she remained mute for weeks.
She refused requests to be photographed so her image might be shared with police forces worldwide, but they managed to acquire one photo surreptitiously and received permission from the High Court to flow into it without her consent.
Inside days the bombshell news of her true identity emerged.
She has managed to persuade people in three countries – Australia, Ireland and Canada – that she is Eastern European, French, Polish, and even a member of the Swedish royal family.
She has gained the boldness of many by claiming to have a troubled past of sexual abuse and trafficking, incarceration by a cult, and even claimed to be a Russian gymnast whose parents had been murdered.
Detective Superintendent Dave Gallagher was assigned to her case and went along with her to Temple Street, where he and a female colleague tried to interview her.
‘She gave the impression to be in good health, albeit a bit of thin for her age, emaciated,’ he told the RTÉ documentary.
‘She appeared nice but didn’t communicate and didn’t need to speak. No eye contact. It was unclear if something bad had happened to this girl. There could also be a really rational reason behind not being willing to cooperate, or that might even be an indication of someone very traumatised, or the victim of a really, very serious incident.
The case would find yourself taking up 2,000 hours of Garda time and price €250,000. Because she never gave an official statement, there was little probability of successfully charging her with deception, so the one avenue open was perhaps to charge her with entry on a false passport.
The penalty for that may have been deportation, but she agreed to go home of her own volition.
Just six months later, in April of 2014, she was back under yet one more alias, this time in Dromod, Co. Leitrim, as Indie O’Shea. She claimed to be the unacknowledged daughter of Princess Madeleine of Sweden.
Investigating her and dealing along with her since she first got here to police attention has cost over €1million in three jurisdictions.
Reporting by Miklos Bolza