23 Dec 2015

'Tis the season to watch your drinks

8:39 am on 23 December 2015

Police have issued a fresh warning about the dangers of drink-spiking, following two incidents in Palmerston North.

alcohol drinks

Bartender Jared Mundy advised keeping drinks in your sight at all times. Photo: 123RF

Police said two women had reported having their drinks tampered with while at bars, and one was violently ill the following day.

Caitlin Foster, a bar patron, said drink spiking was not something which crossed her mind when she was out drinking, but she still took precautions.

"When I am to go off to the bathroom, I give it to people that I trust, people that I know."

She said people should be extra wary when they were out drinking alone.

"I'm sure you're going to meet other people that you may not know. If they're buying you a drink, you need to make sure that you're the person holding on to it, you're the person handling your drinks for the night."

Bartender Jared Mundy said he did everything he could to make sure the drinks people bought were the ones they got.

"You've got the glasses in front of you, you should have your drinks in your view the entire time when you're prepping them.

"No one else needs to come anywhere near your goods, as long as you're focused."

A drink was at risk of being spiked once it left the bar, Mr Mundy said.

"The issue at hand is someone purchasing a drink for someone else, the drink being taken from the bar...and something's happened on the way," he said.

Detective Sergeant Gary Milligan, of the Manawatu Adult Sexual Assault Squad, said there was a risk even when consuming low levels of alcohol.

"It only takes a second for someone to drop a pill, some powder or a few drops of liquid into a drink."

Ten to 20 minutes later, the drinker would start feeling sleepy, dizzy, uninhibited, relaxed and open to suggestion.

"This is when women are at risk of rape and sexual assault."

Palmerston North

Two women in Palmerston North reported having their drinks spiked. Photo: Creative Commons

A manager at Snapdragon on Auckland's waterfront, known only as "Noodles", said she had been the victim of drink-spiking herself.

"I had one [beer], and I left my drink on the table, that was my fault.

"I went to the toilet and came back, and we carried on drinking, then I was like...boom!"

She blacked out until the following morning and it was not until later that she figured out what had happened.

"My friend had been taking photos of all our drinks...and at the bottom of my bottle there was a pink substance," she said.

"If it wasn't for my friend's post, we probably wouldn't have known that my drink got spiked."

Noodles said she now told all of her friends to keep their drinks with them at all times.

She also instructed her bar staff to take any drinks left unattended and pour them out, even at the risk of angering customers.

"I'd rather have a safe environment for people to drink in than people being stupid."

Police say people out should:

  • Buy their own drinks
  • Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers or people they did not know well
  • Avoid sharing drinks
  • Watch their drink being poured or can/bottle being opened at the bar
  • Keep an eye on their drink and friends' drinks when dancing, talking or going to the toilet
  • Not drink something which looked cloudy, changed in colour or did not taste right
  • Not just hope it will pass if they suddenly felt drowsy, or "out of it" and instead have a friend or person they trusted take them to a safe place
  • Look out for and after friends