Story changing over Bali death

KATE LAMB
Last updated 00:00 05/01/2013
 Denni North
TRAGEDY: Denni North, who had been living in Kuta, was reportedly found lying face down in a swimming pool. She worked at The Cocoon Beach Club in Kuta, below.

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She saw the world from the deck of a luxurious cruising yacht, the envy of her many friends and family scattered across the globe.

She loved life and whether it was drinking at a roof-top bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on the beach at St Barts or bungee jumping in Bali, Denielle North had fun.

Late last year, she arrived in Bali and seemingly decided to stay a while. It would prove a fatal decision, though how she died remains a mystery.

Almost a week after Denielle, or Denni, was found poolside at her villa, barely alive, there are more questions than answers and the story keeps changing.

It was foul play; there were no suspicious circumstances. She drowned in the pool; she was found still breathing beside the pool. There was no evidence of drugs at the scene; police are waiting on tests as to the contents of wine glasses found nearby.

So what is known? Denni North, 33, originally from Deception Bay, north of Brisbane, was employed by the hip waterfront Bali beach club Cocoon as a public relations consultant.

As seems to be the case wherever she went, people loved her.

"You could tell right away she was just such a positive and energetic person and stunningly beautiful, on the inside and outside... I always looked forward to working with her and I will miss her greatly," said swimwear designer Nico Genze, who holds regular bikini parties at Cocoon.

In the early hours of December 30, Denni arrived home to her villa in Canggu with three friends. Later that same morning, she would be found alive but barely conscious beside the pool. The 33-year-old was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival at Bali International Medical Centre.

Initial reports claimed she was found dead, face down in her villa swimming pool. Her employers at Cocoon speculated that she might have drowned. But after questioning witnesses, including two of the three friends that spent the night at her villa, Bali police now say she was found barely conscious but still breathing - not in the pool but on her back, with her feet in the water.

What is known is that Denni's three friends - Australian woman Felicity Bloom, her French girlfriend Agathe Ammeux and another woman known only as Kelly - shared drinks with her by the pool. The other three then went to bed, leaving Denni alone. When the 33-year-old was found at 9am she was wearing the same clothes as the night before.

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Police have questioned six witnesses so far, including the villa security guards and both Bloom and Ammeux, but are yet to locate the third woman, who reportedly first discovered Ms North and could hold key information about her death.

"We are still trying to locate her. We are also keeping close contact with the manager of Cocoon restaurant where she worked to help locate her," said North Kuta police chief Aldi Alfa.

Despite conjecture to the contrary, including from her estranged father, neither the Bali police nor the North family say they believe her death is suspicious.

Speaking on the family's behalf, Anthony Bevilacqua, the manager of the Cocoon, said the North family was 'devastated' but did not suspect foul play. "It was an accident, full stop. Speculation of foul play and things like that is not on their minds," Mr Bevilacqua told reporters on Thursday.

No obvious bruises or signs of struggle were found on Denni's body when it was later examined at Sanglah Hospital. And when the Canggu villa was searched two days after her death — police were only notified of the death two days after the fact — no evidence of drugs was found. Local police say they have ruled out the possibility that her death was drug-induced.

However, that assessment was made without any blood toxicology tests being performed on Denni's body. In Indonesia, such tests are only conducted as part of an autopsy — and an autopsy is only performed if the death is believed to be suspicious, or if specifically requested by the family.

The North family have requested an autopsy be performed in Australia when Denni's body is returned in coming days.

Meanwhile, officers are testing the wine glasses found on a poolside table, but those results could take weeks.

"It's an ongoing investigation, if we find anything in the future, we can reopen the case at anytime," said police chief Alfa.

Denni North is finally coming home, but not the way she planned.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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