The High Court has been told a vulnerable, intellectually disabled young woman was found by gardaí in a filthy, distressed and apparently drugged state at a Traveller campsite several days after leaving a private care facility.

High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the woman had undergone a terrifying ordeal and her parents endured a nightmare.

He said the facts of the case were shocking and extraordinary and were now the subject of a Health Service Executive investigation.

The young woman, who is in her 20s, has intellectual and psychiatric disabilities and a mental age of about ten.

She was placed in the private facility some years ago because her disabilities meant she could not be cared for at home.

She left the facility on 29 April and returned there with a man on 1 May to collect her allowance. 

She was again allowed to leave without any alarm bells being rung, Mr Justice Kelly said.

Her parents, who were abroad on business, were contacted by the premises that day to say their daughter had left but was being monitored and they should not contact her as it was expected she would return.

Her parents contacted gardaí on 3 May.

The HSE indicated to an emergency sitting of the High Court on 9 May that it was going to apply to make her a ward of court and got orders permitting gardaí to remove her from the campsite. 

The court heard she had torn leggings, no underwear, her clothes were filthy and she appeared to have faeces on the back of her shirt.

Her speech was slurred and it seemed she had not taken her prescribed medication and other drugs may have caused her condition.

A young man told the court he had consensual sex with the woman, whom he knew from the past. He said he had not raped or harmed her and was in love with her.

He also said he had a number of psychiatric conditions.

He said he would not contact her in any way and that he was sorry and that he was not a monster.

Her parents expressed concern about the way the facility handled the situation and her father told the court they have no confidence in its ability to keep their daughter safe and do not want her to stay there. 

He said there should have been procedures not to let a person with special needs just walk away. He said his daughter had no filter for danger and would walk away with anyone who approached her.

Mr Justice Kelly said the court was waiting for a report from the private facility about what happened. He said the HSE evidence was that the woman must remain there for the moment because no alternative was immediately available.

He made orders to ensure she will be adequately supervised and safe pending various assessments.

Mr Justice Kelly said the woman's parents were decent people who having handed over custody of their daughter to a third party, felt badly let down and were entitled to expect what happened would have caused alarm bells to ring.

He noted multiple breaches of court orders restraining the young man from contacting the woman or her parents as well as evidence that money was sought from the parents. He warned there would be consequences if there were further breaches.

The court heard the woman remains very distressed and confused and believed in a childlike way that she loved the man but was also afraid of him. She had asked for the return of a soft toy and other personal belongings.

The man said he had given the soft toy to her mother, did not have the other items and denied breaches of the court orders.