Friends speak of 'spiking' in market town and advise others: 'be careful'

Virginia Hale, known as Ginnie (left) with her friend Amy Bayliss

Virginia Hale, known as Ginnie (left), who was taken to hospital after her drink is believed to have been spiked in Bury St Edmunds. She is with her friend Amy Bayliss - Credit: Amy Bayliss

A woman who was taken to hospital after a possible spiking in Bury St Edmunds says she was "lucky" she had been with her friends.

Virginia Hale, known as Ginnie, is encouraging people to take extra care when on a night out after she suddenly became unwell on Saturday, November 27, following what she believes must have been spiking.

The issue of spiking has grabbed headlines nationwide, with demonstrators taking to the streets to demand greater measures to protect pub and club-goers.

Miss Hale, 50, a childminder, says she discovered a puncture mark and bruise on the side of her knee after her evening with friends in the town centre, but is unsure whether she was spiked by injection.

She had had two gin and lemonades at a friend's house and a shot at a social club before the group moved onto town.

At Wetherspoon, she only had one drink - her last that night, another gin and lemonade - before leaving and walking to the Grapes pub.

The friends had been enjoying their night out in Bury St Edmunds

The friends had been enjoying their night out in Bury St Edmunds until things turned sour when Ginnie Hale (second from right) collapsed and was unconscious - Credit: Amy Bayliss

Her friend Amy Bayliss, who was on the night out with her, described how on the walk her friend started to "feel funny" and then when she got to the Grapes she "just collapsed". 

She was being sick and "passed out," she said.

Miss Hale's friends got her in the recovery position and the ambulance service arrived, as well as the police.

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Mrs Bayliss, 37, owner of Huggles Childcare, said she had also been struggling to breathe.

"She was literally like jelly. She was like a dead weight. It was so scary to see her like that," said Mrs Bayliss, who added they were all still sober.

"To see her like that, just from having four drinks, was just scary."

Miss Hale said it didn't feel anything like being drunk, adding: "From what I'm told really, I couldn't move my legs or anything. I think I came in and out of consciousness and heard voices around me."

The friends had had some drinks at home before moving onto town. Ginnie's last drink had been in the Wetherspoon

The friends had had some drinks at home before moving onto town. Ginnie's last drink had been in the Wetherspoon - Credit: Amy Bayliss

She said she had left her drink in Wetherspoon to go to the toilet, but it was with her friends.

She said she woke up in hospital at about 3am, with her last clear memories of being in the Wetherspoon, where they stayed from about 9-9.30pm.

Miss Hale, who has felt sick most of this week, said what happened to her had been "scary, and I was lucky because I was with my friends".

Both Miss Hale and Mrs Bayliss want to encourage other people to "be careful when out, always stick together".

What happened has put the friends off going into town in the evening.

Mrs Bayliss added: "I don't think I will go out in the town without my husband. It's scary, it's really scary.

"I have a daughter of my own. She's only 12, but when she gets older if nothing is done about it, it's only going to get worse." 

Amy Bayliss (right) said the reported spiking had happened to "one of the most kind caring souls that I know"

Amy Bayliss (right) said the reported spiking had happened to "one of the most kind caring souls that I know". She is pictured with Ginnie Hale in Wetherspoon - Credit: Amy Bayliss

Mrs Bayliss said as a result of highlighting what happened through social media, she had heard from others saying either they or friends or family had been spiked in the town.

On Facebook she said: "I'm so angry this has happened to one of the most kind caring souls that I know."

Referring to Suffolk, a Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We continue to monitor the situation closely as well as working closely with our partners in the night-time economy so they know what to do if they encounter such an incident.”

The spokesman confirmed they received a report from a female victim of a possible drink spiking in Bury St Edmunds on November 27 and a pinprick on their knee was also reported.

"She was taken to hospital for treatment and enquires are ongoing," they said.

A spokesman for Wetherspoon said they were investigating internally and would also assist the police with their enquires.

"Once we have established the exact circumstances, we will review the security arrangements at the pub as necessary, including our search policy when door supervisors are on duty," the spokesman said.

Door supervisors are on the doors of its Bury St Edmunds branch, the Corn Exchange, on Friday and Saturday nights.

Also, in response to the increase in reported spiking incidents in pubs and nightclubs, Wetherspoon adopted extra measures nationwide in order to help to make its pubs safe spaces including adopting the 'Ask for Angela’ safety scheme.

Last month police said they were investigating a reported spiking by needle incident at the Flex nightclub in Bury St Edmunds.

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