A mum who claims she was spiked on a night out has bravely opened up about the disturbing ordeal that left her with shocking injuries but no memory of how she got them.
It was Saturday night and Maria Beckwith was enjoying drinks with a work friend in a city centre bar.
But just hours later, the Sunderland mum-of-two found herself wandering the streets of Newcastle alone, injured and unaware of how she got there, Chronicle Live reports.
The last thing the 42-year-old remembered from that night on October 2 was getting her friend to walk her to Monument Metro station but, after that, everything is a blur.
Maria believes her drink was spiked as she stood by it at the bar, which left her feeling “woozy” despite not drinking much on the night.
“I got on the wrong Metro and was walking down random streets of Newcastle,” she said.
“I didn’t know what was going on or where I was.
“I had gone from being absolutely fine and having a dance to not knowing where I was in just an hour.”
Piecing together the evening with the help of her friends, Maria says she must have got off at St James’ Metro station but blacked out and woke up on the streets with a head injury and a black eye.
Thankfully, a phone call to a friend describing her location meant that she was picked up by them in a taxi and taken home.
But, the next day, Maria woke up in severe pain and realised she needed hospital treatment.
Doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital ran tests and found that she had suffered a bump to the head, a fractured rib, bruising down her shoulder and a black eye.
But Maria says it was too late for medics to run tests to find out if she had been spiked.
The Mercedes Benz sales worker has spent the last four weeks recovering at home but says she still suffers from constant headaches and dizziness.
“I would hand on my heart say there is no way I would have had a total blackout like that and been so confused without any kind of interference with my drink,” she said.
“You know your body and know how you would normally behave.”
Maria reported that she had been spiked to Northumbria Police on October 6, but said that four weeks on officers are only just starting to investigate.
She said she feels officers and city nightspots need to do more to tackle the issue of spiking.
“I think there needs to be more awareness because it is so rife at the moment,” she said.
“Just because you get home safe doesn’t mean you don’t report it because for every woman that gets home safe, there could be one that doesn’t.
“It is so important that bouncers and people behind the bars know the signs to look out for and don’t assume that everyone has had too much to drink.
“Especially coming up to Christmas, I know a lot of people will be out on staff nights out and everyone will be letting loose, but the likes of the drink spikers and those who are there to take advantage will also be there.
“I think, coming into the party season, it is so important that people know what to look out for [and] that people like the taxi drivers and bouncers look beyond judgment of people having too much to drink.”
Northumbria Police said: “We can confirm that we have received a report from a woman concerned she had been spiked while on a night out in Newcastle on Saturday, October 2.
“We have identified a number of lines of inquiry and an investigation remains ongoing at this time.”
They added: “We proactively police the night-time economy and as part of Operation Cloak, have dedicated officers on patrol to protect those who may be vulnerable and target anyone looking to commit offences.
“We also work with our partners and licensees to help ensure the city remains one of the safest to enjoy a night out.
“We would encourage anyone who has concerns or believes they have been a victim of spiking, to get in touch with us.
“As a force, we will investigate every report we receive and are committed to working with and supporting victims.”