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Inquest of Date-rape Drug Victim Attracts Wide Attention in Australia

Dianne Elizabeth Brimble, the 42-year-old mother of three from Brisbane, Queensland in Australia died on September 23, 2002 , within 24 hours of boarding a cruise liner. She was apparently felled by a toxic combination of alcohol and date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as fantasy.

She had gone on the cruise with her 12-year-old daughter, sister and niece, and two families she was friends with.

Toxicology reports later revealed that the amount of the sedative drug in her system was three times the amount that a recreational user would have used. Her body was found on the floor of cabin D182, which belonged to four of the men whom she had met at the ship's disco the previous night.

Four years later, only now, the inquest has commenced.

Eight men from South Australia who were traveling companions on the ship have been named by police investigators as "persons of interest" in the case.

One of the eight has told the Sydney inquest the behaviour of his seven travelling companions was "horrendously embarrassing".

Adelaide University student Matthew Slade said the embarrassing behaviour of the other seven began on their flight to Sydney to meet the cruise ship.

Describing the men as "really rough guys", Mr Slade said they commented favourably and unfavourably on the appearance of female passengers.

He said he'd only come to know two of the men before he left Adelaide and decided he'd try to ditch them on the cruise because of their behavior on the plane.

Her body was found on the floor of the cabin Slade shared with three of the other seven persons of interest.

Earlier too several witnesses had testified that the men had spent most of the time on the cruise allegedly propositioning a number of female passengers of varying ages.

Among numerous acts of alleged sexual harassment were asking a 15 year old to do an erotic dance in their cabin for cash, entering a cabin of 4 girls uninvited, asking if they were going to the disco where they 'could go down on them' and asking one woman if he could perform oral sex on her among others.

The inquest also heard the initial interview that Letterio Silvestri, another of the seven, had given police in New Caledonia. The interview was taken two days after Brimble's death. At that time, Silvestri denied any involvement with Brimble. During the interview, Silvestri spoke of Brimble in disparaging terms, saying that "she smelt, she was black and she was ugly." Silvestri also described her as "desperate", "an ugly dog" and a "fat thing." Silvestri told the police interviewers that he was angry because Brimble ruined his holiday by dying in his cabin. According to police witness statements, Silvestri allegedly said to another cruise passenger, Allison McKain, that "The b----- is dead, the f---ing b---- is dead

A couple of days ago Brimbles personal physician, Dr Chi said Mrs Brimble had called him on September 11, 2002, less than two weeks before she died on a Pacific cruise, and told him she had had unprotected sex the night before. She had asked him for the morning-after pill, which he prescribed, Dr Chi said.

He also told the court that in February 2001 she had asked for an HIV test following an "indiscretion". The test was negative.

The court also heard details of the harrowing attempts by doctors on the ship to resuscitate Brimble.

Dr Chi said he was "totally shocked" when the ship's doctor, Damien McAliskey, rang him to tell him Mrs Brimble had died, because she had no history of cardiac or respiratory problems. The ship's doctors initially thought she might have died of a heart attack.

The inquest continues.

The case has prompted stricter security measures for Australian cruises with the introduction of security sniffer dogs and closed-circuit surveillance cameras in ships.


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