Was St Albans woman’s drink spiked?

Donna Johnston suspects her drink was spiked during a visit to O'Neill's bar on Victoria Street

Donna Johnston suspects her drink was spiked during a visit to O'Neill's bar on Victoria Street - Credit: Archant

A St Albans woman who was temporarily paralysed and suffered hallucinations at an inner-city bar fears her drink was spiked with a date rape drug.

Donna Johnston was among a group of 10 friends at O’Neill’s, Victoria Street, on Friday, August 8, when she suddenly became very ill.

The 39-year-old believes she was the victim of drink spiking, specifically Rohypnol, a potent tranquilizer that is about 10 times stronger than Valium and is known as a “date rape drug”.

She and another friend bought drinks from the bar at about 8.30pm.

But when Donna started drinking her second Guinness, she “started to feel a little strange”.

She added: “One of my friends started asking me if I was OK. I couldn’t believe I was swaying after just one drink.

“Unknown to me at this time another friend, who had drunk a Bacardi and Coke, had gone to the toilet feeling dizzy herself and realised that her drink must have been spiked. She was feeling sick, dizzy and weak, and as she knew about the dangers of date rape drugs, made herself vomit.

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“When she came back to warn me 30 minutes later, she realised that my condition was worse than hers and that I was feeling the effects of my drink being poisoned.”

Donna said her symptoms included being violently sick, temporary paralysis from the legs down and eventually her entire body, suffering hallucinations and blacking-out.

She also has no memory of what happened after 9pm.

Donna went on: “Luckily for me, I had my friends and my husband who came to take me home.

“I blacked out by the time I got to the front door. I was completely unconscious. What I do remember is that my legs wouldn’t work anymore.

“People had to sit with me until 4.30am as I was still being sick although I was not conscious. It was really scary.”

Donna called the police the next day, who suggested she go to hospital for a test to establish what drug might have been used. But she decided against going, as after been so ill through the night she “couldn’t face waiting four hours in A&E.”

Donna has approached the Herts Advertiser to help warn other women to be alert to drink spiking.

She said: “Awareness needs to be raised. I was lucky, but it took two days to recover. My concern is that someone else may not be so lucky.”

A spokeswoman for O’Neill’s said: “The wellbeing of our customers is paramount and we’re taking this extremely seriously.

“As soon as we were made aware we immediately began an investigation.”

Detective Sergeant James Twitchett said Donna’s allegation was being looked into by Herts Police.

He added: “We are doing everything we can to establish exactly what has happened.

“We are working with the licensing officer and will be speaking to all the pubs and clubs in St Albans to make them aware of this incident.”