Student had to go to intensive care suffering ‘jittery legs and blackouts’ after being ‘spiked by injection’ on night out

  • Mollie McCooey, 22, was allegedly spiked with a needle at a Halloween party
  • It took place at the University of Birmingham’s Student Guild on October 30 
  • Miss McCooey said she drank a ‘negligible’ amount of alcohol and felt sober 
  • Another student also claims she was spiked during the same party at the guild

A student says she was ‘spiked by a needle’ and spent five hours in intensive care after doctors administered a hepatitis jab to prevent infection.

Mollie McCooey, 22, a final year student at the University of Birmingham, said she felt a ‘wave’ coming over her and felt sick while partying at a Halloween event at the university’s student guild.

She suffered a series of blackouts and after finding what appeared to be a puncture wound on her arm the next day, she went to A&E before being transferred into intensive care. 

The alleged spiking took place at the student guild’s Fab ‘N’ Halloween event on Saturday, October 30.    

Mollie McCooey (centre), 22, was allegedly spiked with a needle at a Halloween event hosted by the university of Birmingham’s student guild on October 30

‘The next day, I found what looked a lot like a puncture wound on my arm and rung 111, who immediately told me to go to A&E’, said Miss McCooey.

Another Birmingham student was also allegedly spiked during the same Halloween party.

Miss McCooey said: ‘I was at the Underground bar attempting to get my first drink of the evening, and after 10 minutes of queuing, everything around me went into slow motion.

‘The feeling was so intense, so I abandoned the queue and moved myself out of the way.’

Miss McCooey said the amount of alcohol she’d had to drink was ‘negligible’ and she had felt sober up to that point.

‘I could not work out what was happening or why,’ she said.

After leaving the Guild, Miss McCooey could barely read her phone screen to call an Uber home. Her condition quickly deteriorated and she said: ‘My legs became jittery… my teeth felt very on edge.’

These symptoms were followed a series of blackouts inside the taxi as well as once she got home. 

‘The next day, I found what looked a lot like a puncture wound on my arm and rung 111, who immediately told me to go to A&E’, she explained.

After the doctors took bloods, ECG’s and administered a Hepatitis B jab, Miss McCooey had a severe reaction to the jab. She says doctors explained that it was due to the ‘foreign bodies’ in her blood, from the alleged spiking.

Final year student Mollie McCooey says she felt a ‘wave’ come over her after being in the Guild for approximately half an hour, before her vision deteriorated and she started to feel sick

From this, she was moved to intensive care as her blood pressure was dangerously low, and spent five hours being stabilised.

Miss McCooey described the experience as ‘incredibly distressing’. 

In a statement released by the Guild, they wrote that they are ‘very concerned’ of the alleged needle spikings at Fab ‘N’ Halloween.

A spokesman said: ‘Please be assured that your safety is extremely important to us and we want you to feel and be safe on nights out.

A crowd of people gathered in Manchester to protest in a bid to urge venues to do more to protect customers from having their drink spiked as part of a nationwide movement known as Girls Night In which has seen thousands boycott bars and clubs

‘We are in contact with the students involved on Saturday and we are working closely with West Midlands Police, Guild Advice, University Security and Wellbeing services to ensure that they receive help and support. We will cooperate fully with any police investigations.

‘We want to make it clear that we have a zero-tolerance approach to anyone who is caught spiking someone with a needle or someone’s drink, and will not hesitate to report the matter to both the police, and the university.’

Wes Midlands Police has also been approached for comment. 

What do the experts say on reports of injection spiking? 

Is it possible?

Yes – and there are credible reports where people have woken up with needle marks having been spiked.

But the likelihood of it being a widespread phenomena is ‘deeply improbable’, according to one medical consultant. 

David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE News: ‘The technical and medical knowledge required to perform this would make this deeply improbable. 

‘It’s really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this.’

Could someone not give the injection really fast?

Yes – but they’d need a very powerful drug to do so discreetly, experts say.

GHB is one of the most well-known ‘date rape’ drug and is also self-administered in small doses by people recreationally.

But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a ‘poor candidate’ for injection because of the large amounts of fluid needed. 

‘Therefore (it would require) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening,’ he said.

Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: ‘There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on. 

‘What you see in the movies is not reality. People need to keep their drinks close to them, avoid taking them from strangers and keep an eye out for their mates.’

Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?

Yes – but some parts are more effective than others

Mr Jones told VICE: ‘Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well.

‘The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.’

What about drink spiking?

While injection spiking is still possible, drink spiking is a lot more common.

Incidents of drink spiking in the UK increased by 108 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents taking place in 2017 alone. 

This is only the officially recorded numbers – and is likely to be much higher as it is common for people not to report it to police.

Charity Drinkaware advise: ‘Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know and if they’re available, use drink stoppers, which can be purchased online, for the top of your bottle.’ 

Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs.

Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. 

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