Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 6 News List

British mother of two sent to jail for `rape-drug' thefts

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

A mother of two was jailed for five years on Monday after becoming the first woman in the UK to be convicted of using the drug Rohypnol to sedate male victims before stealing from them.

Selina Hakki latched on to a wealthy banker and a film director at London nightspots, went home with them and spiked their drinks before taking jewelry and cash.

After Hakki, 37, was sentenced, police revealed they had evidence that she had targeted four other victims -- and possibly may have stolen from many more who were too embarrassed to come forward.

The sentence was welcomed by campaigners who are demanding that the police take offences involving Rohypnol -- which has gained notoriety as a "date rape" drug -- and similar drugs seriously.

However it also drew attention to the relative rarity of prosecutions for offences in which drugs like Rohypnol are used either to rob or commit a sexual offence.

The UK's Association of Chief Police Officers is undertaking a study on sexual attacks in which drugs are used but some campaigners believe many forces still do not pour enough resources into the problem.

One campaign group also expressed concern that Hakki may have received a harder sentence because she was a woman, though the judge made clear as he sentenced her that he believed she had been cynical and calculating.

Middlesex Guildhall crown court in central London heard how Hakki met the Oscar-nominated film director Alexander Jovy, 34, at the Aura nightclub in Piccadilly in September 2003.

He told the court that at his flat he poured two glasses of wine before retiring to the bathroom. He drained his drink on returning and collapsed. When he woke he discovered that valuables including a ?5,000 (US$9,300) Rolex watch his father had given him as a 21st birthday present had been taken. He went to the police, who found he had traces of Rohypnol in his blood. Traces of Hakki's DNA were found on cigarette ends at his flat.

Police linked Jovy's experience to that of banker Volker Vogler, 38. He met Hakki at a bar in the Hilton Hotel in Mayfair in May 2002. He remembered her asking if she could go home with him.

After drinking red wine he too fell unconscious. Upon waking he discovered valuables including a Tiffany alarm clock and cash had gone.

When police raided Hakki's home in east London, they found it full of valuables. Most of the goods are believed to belong to men who have not come forward.

Hakki, who was convicted of two offences of administering a drug with intent to steal, sobbed as the judge told her the offences demonstrated "a degree of planning, sophistication and controlling behavior."

In September last year a survey interviewed 750 people in 16 British cities and found that one in four women of club and pub-going age spoken to said that they had had drinks spiked.

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