It was a tragic tale – orphaned at 14 and then abandoned in a foreign country by a relative who had sexually abused her.
Her name was Dakota Johnson. Her mother, a Dutch Magistrate, and her surgeon father had been killed in a car accident in Europe.
A Brisbane support service took her off the streets in 2010 and provided her with food and shelter.
She wanted to continue her private education and approached several Brisbane schools. All she had was a letter of introduction from the prestigious Swiss private school Le Rosey, a receipt from a bank on Lord Howe Island and a pink diary chronicling the sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle. One high school accepted her as a student.
“Dakota” told the schools and support service staff she had travelled with her European uncle to Australia via Lord Howe Island and he had left her stranded in NSW.
Concerned with her welfare, the Brisbane agency contacted police. Detectives interviewed her at length and found her claims did not add up.
A search of her belongings painted a different story. Detectives found photographs on her laptop of the girl with her family on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Using the date the photograph was taken, police contacted the company which organised the bridge climbs and obtained detailed lists of participants.
The girl in the photo was not a sexually abused teenage orphan – she was a 22-year-old Sydney woman who at the time was wanted in Queensland and NSW for fraud-related matters.
The matters included her obtaining a Medicare card under a false name and using it in Rockhampton.
A further examination of her computer showed the letter of introduction from the Swiss school was fake and created on her laptop.
The bank receipt was also fake.
She was charged with four offences and appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 14.
Police told 7News the woman allegedly convinced a police officer and the presiding magistrate that she was a teenager and her name was Dakota Johnson. Police said the charges were dismissed and she was arrested again. She fronted court the next day after Queensland police obtained a sworn affidavit from her father in NSW confirming her true identity and age.
Court records show she appeared on September 14 charged with one count each of contravening a direction and possess things with intent to forge documents, and two counts of false representation. The records show those charges were recorded as being dismissed with no evidence to offer. She is then listed as appearing on September 15 on the same charges. She was fined $500 and placed on twelve months recognizance.
A month later she was back before the Brisbane court on an additional four charges of false representation and was given the same penalty.
This week the woman was identified as the mystery girl who was found dazed and confused on the streets of Dublin on October 10.
She was apparently only able to communicate with Irish authorities through broken English and horrific drawings of her being raped by men who paid for her.
She could not tell them who she was or her country of origin.
Irish police initially suspected she was only 14 or 15, European and a victim of human trafficking.
She was taken into care by Ireland’s Health Service Executive because of her age and agitated state.
Hundreds of hours were racked up trying to identify her.
Following a month-long investigation, police took the unprecedented step of seeking permission from the Irish High Court under the Child Care Act to release a photograph of her.
Their application was granted and the photograph was released globally on Tuesday. Within hours there was a breakthrough from a man who told Irish police their mystery girl had family in Tipperary , the Irish Independent reported.
She was identified as a 25-year-old from Australia. Federal authorities here have been assisting Irish police.
A DNA sample was taken from her mother yesterday by West Australian police to help Irish authorities positively identify her.
She is no longer believed to be a victim of human trafficking, according to several media reports.
As revealed exclusively by 7News, the 25-year-old has in excess of 40 aliases and is known to police in several states. Police have found her with different forms of identification including a Dutch driver’s licence, medicare cards, a false passport, airline tickets and bank documents, under different names.
She has a pattern of claiming to be a teenage victim of sexual assault however she never reveals her true identity or that of her attackers to authorities. She was also listed as a missing person in Queensland in 2007.
The woman has some psychiatric and criminal history. She has convictions for fraud in Western Australia and Queensland.
Documents obtained by 7News reveal she has allegedly concocted grandiose schemes using false identities to trigger sympathy from people she comes into contact with or assistance from authorities.
Police describe her as someone who is convincing in assuming the identity and emotions of a teenager. She also constantly changes her appearance.
Earlier this year, using a false identity she posed as a 16-year-old private schoolgirl seeking accommodation from the Melbourne City Mission.
However her plans were short lived when staff checked with the school and found that had no students were enrolled under the name she had provided. She then sought help at a Melbourne hospital claiming to be a teenage victim of sexual assault using a fake name. The woman then claimed her parents gave her to a man they were in debt to and he and several others had raped her. She was later held in the hospital’s psychiatric unit. At one point she told staff she made up the claims about being raped to avoid doing housework.
Victorian police were unable to get to the bottom of her claims as she refused to give them details. 7News has learned that the Department of Human Services in Victoria is preparing advice for Australian Federal Police in relation to the Victorian investigation.
Police suspect the woman’s penchant for creating false identities and pretending to be a child victim of sexual assault is to access accommodation and money from government and community agencies.
Her complex web of tales also extends to social media networks.
On Facebook, police found she had set up a page under the name of Emily Sciberras, “gymnast ready to compete”. On the page’s biography, she claims she grew up in Geraldton, WA and at age 7, moved to Moscow to study gymnastics. The page has more than 4,000 likes and includes well wishes from fans and photographs of a gymnast in different competitions.
In 2011 she was in WA where befriended a teenage girl at a Perth TAFE. She introduced herself as Emily Azzopardi and had stayed overnight several times at the girl’s family home. During her stays she told her friend’s mother she had lived in Russia and had been the number one ranked under 16 gymnast. She told the woman she was also known as Emily Sciberras and around December 2011, claimed she was moving to France to help her grandparents run a home for troubled kids.
A month later she posted on Emily’s Facebook page that her family had died in an incident in France. She included a newspaper article a double murder-suicide in which a man killed his wife and 15-year-old daughter before taking his own life. The article said there was a surviving twin sister of the 15-year-old. The woman claimed she was the twin.
Police said the article prompted the WA family to contact “Emily” as they wanted to adopt her.
During the adoption process, “Emily” claimed to be living in the United States with a judge who specialized in adoptions. Police allege the woman assumed the identity of a Florida judge and created an email account to communicate and exchange paperwork with the WA family.
At one point last year, she met with the family in Sydney but told them she was too scared to return to WA because she had been raped in Perth.
Her scam unraveled when the family enrolled her at a WA school and the birth certificate she used under the name, Emily Azzopardi, proved to be fake.
The woman was arrested at the home of her adoptive family and WA police charged her with fraudulent offences. While in WA, police discovered she obtained a Medicare card and opened several bank accounts under the alias of Emily Azzopardi.
In October last year a Perth court sentenced her to a six-month prison term but it was suspended for 12 months. She was convicted of three counts each of defrauding by deceit in attempting to obtain benefits payments and opening an account with a cash dealer in a false name. She was also convicted of inducing a person to do an act he/she is lawfully entitled to abstain from.
Using her own photograph as a young schoolgirl. the woman has also created another Facebook page under the pseudonym of Emily-Ellen Sheahan
She has undergone psychiatric tests in Ireland and could be charged with wasting police time in an investigation that has cost around $500,000 or be deported back to Australia.
Members of her family are believed to be travelling to Ireland to assist authorities.
7News approached her father yesterday but he said he was too upset to speak at this stage.
Her cousin also declined to comment.