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Last Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007, 09:01 GMT
Timing method for rape drug found
Hilary Bathgate
Hilary Bathgate is studying for a doctorate at UEA
A scientific technique has been developed which could help police investigate drug rape cases where victims' drinks have been spiked.

Hilary Bathgate, 22, has created a method that pinpoints when the date rape drug GHB is added to a drink, within a two hour time-frame.

The former University of Derby forensic science student's work focuses on the degradation of the drug in liquid.

She is now studying for a doctorate at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Ms Bathgate developed the process by monitoring how the drug broke down in a glass of wine, a vodka and Coke, a drink of J20, and a Bacardi Breezer.

Degradation rate

Ms Bathgate, who received a first in her BSc forensic science course for the work, said: "The key development has been being able to help find the time-frame for when a drink may have been spiked, using the degradation process.

"The type of alcohol served also plays a part, with the drug degrading more rapidly in certain drinks, such as white wine in comparison to non-alcoholic drinks such as J20."

The rate of degradation is also faster at higher temperatures, she said.

"If anyone who feels they have had their drink spiked is able to retain even a sample of the spiked drink for analysis, the equation could be used by forensic scientists to help indicate the time-frame for when the drink was spiked."

Julian Love, programme leader for forensic science at Derby, who previously worked as a forensic scientist with Strathclyde Police, said: "Hilary's study is of particular importance and interest to the world of forensic science.

"She is an excellent student who has been recognised for her academic ability by being able to bypass masters level and move straight on to her doctorate."

Most spiking cases 'just drunk'
16 Feb 07 |  North East Wales
Device targets drink-spiking
19 Apr 04 |  Wales

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