'I have so many questions' - spiking victim urges cases to be taken seriously

Elleanah Howson, a 21-year old from Bury St Edmunds, with her horse

Elleanah Howson wants to raise awareness of spiking incidents against young women - Credit: Lucy Halpin Photography

Another spiking victim from Suffolk has said her experience has "put her on edge" after a night out in Cambridge left her in hospital. 

Elleanah Howson, 21 and from Bury St Edmunds, said that she and a group of six of her friends decided to visit Cambridge for dinner and some drinks over the weekend of January 8. 

But although Miss Howson remembers her two-course meal and three small glasses of wine, her memory is blank from 11pm to around 5.30am, when she woke up in Addenbrooke's Hospital. 

She said: "I remember sitting and chatting to the girls and suddenly I just don't remember anything at all. 

"My friends realised I wasn't just drunk and something had happened because I was sick in the toilets at the bar, couldn't walk, couldn't talk. They had to carry me out and I'm quite small but it took three of them and a bouncer." 

Getting an ambulance was no easy task, with two passing policemen eventually managing to get paramedics involved and Miss Howson to emergency care. 

"When I came to I had no idea what had happened or why I was here.  

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"And I was confused, because it was written in the report for my discharge notes that I was intoxicated and a suspected spiking but I had no urine or blood tests done. It felt like I'd been left in a children's bay to just come around myself. 

"I feel like I should've had some tests done. 

"I have so many questions about what happened, why it happened, when it happened. I know it's an unknown thing and might always be for me but I want it to be taken more seriously because I don't think it is. 

"I wasn't in a fit state to ask questions or find out what was going on, I wish I had been and could push for answers because now I feel like I don't have an important bit of information for the police." 

A spokesman for Addenbrooke's Hospital explained the procedure for testing after a suspected spiking, noting: "Spiking is a repugnant crime and we advise patients to report it to the police as quickly as they are able, so toxicology testing via forensic services can be considered.  

"It is very different to the testing we do, which is only undertaken if it assists with clinical management." 

An investigation has been launched by Cambridgeshire Constabulary into the incident and Miss Howson says the bar staff at La Raza have been very helpful. 

"The bar staff organised for someone to get me out and have called since that night to ask how I am, if there's anything they could do, to say they were going through CCTV to help with the investigation."

But that hasn't made her feel any safer about nights out in the near future. 

She continued: "It's made me more wary. 

"For my 18th I got alcohol poisoning and ended up really ill, so basically I stopped drinking for over a year to get myself back to where I wanted. 

"Going back out was a big deal for me, I felt good I could do that, but this has knocked me back again and it does scare me, that this could happen again or could happen to someone else I'm with. 

"I am an active person and I work with horses full-time, but after this incident it's taken me a while to recover and get back to my routine, which is very unusual. 

"I don't plan on drinking for a very long time. 

"I was so lucky to have friends with me and I'm very grateful for them, but if they hadn't been there I don't know what would've happened, so it's put me on edge." 

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said: "We were called on January 10 with reports of a suspected drink spiking incident, which occurred in Cambridge on January 8. 

"The incident is currently under investigation. 

"We take all reports of spiking extremely seriously and encourage all victims to report any concerns they may have to police or a member of bar staff or security as soon as possible. 

"All reports made to us are investigated thoroughly and all lines of enquiry considered. 

"Last year there was an increase in the number of reported incidents of spiking in the county, particularly in Cambridge. We have increased patrols for the night time economy as a result, with the use of uniformed and plain clothed officers. 

"We have also supplied additional training to door staff, taxi marshals and CCTV operators which is focused on searching for predatory behaviour and supports our ongoing work with licensees."