Death probe plea: 'Cocktail manslaughter'

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013
Alcohol abroad
DANGEROUS BREW: Liam Davies suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok on New Year's Eve.

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Australian Federal Police could be sent to Indonesia to investigate the death of a New Zealand-born teenager who died of methanol poisoning.

Liam Davies, 19, of Perth, died in hospital at the weekend after drinking a vodka and lime mix laced with the poisonous chemical at Rudy's Bar on Gili Island located off the northwest tip of Lombok, Indonesia.

He was taken to the international hospital in Lombok on January 2 and was flown to Perth that night. He was in a coma and ventilated on arrival and the whole time he was in hospital.

Mr Davies' mother, Lhani, spoke to the media for the first time yesterday since his death.

She told the Taranaki Daily News a Perth coroner had told her Australian police could be sent to the popular tourist destination to investigate.

"They said if this had happened in Australia this would be considered manslaughter but because they have no jurisdiction over there they can't charge anyone over there with manslaughter but they need to investigate in that manner," she said.

However, because Indonesia had its own customs, the investigation could take two years and more tourists would be put in danger.

"It's a long time when you want answers and people to be held accountable," Mrs Davies said.

"This needs to be brought to these bar owners' attention - the gravity of their actions. These are not random foreigners, these are people's babies.

"Liam had travelled half the world in his time and was a very street-wise kid.

"They had been assured that the spirits were legit at this bar.

"It's hard to believe that my son's life was worth as little as the cost of one glass of vodka."

Mrs Davies said she would like to see the bar closed during the investigation and tourists to boycott the islands until bar owners and bootleggers were held accountable for the use of methanol.

"If they are not prepared to change their ways of how they run their businesses, then people need to stay away."

It was frustrating that Liam's death had not been reported in the Indonesian media and authorities were denying any knowledge of it, she said.

Mrs Davies said the family had been devastated by his death.

"We've got two other beautiful boys, we are a tight-knit family but we are shell-shocked, absolutely shell-shocked."

The family would continue to fight to prevent further deaths.

"We can do nothing more for Liam but in honour of Liam we are fighting to make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else."

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A toxicology specialist advised the family that as little as one teaspoon of methanol could kill, Mrs Davies said.

Her eldest son was a roof carpenter who worked hard but enjoyed mates, motorbikes, fishing and a good time.

Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association has called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to "show leadership" after the death, the West Australian reported.

The association's West Australia president, Richard Choong, said the prime minister should "stand up and show leadership".

"How many people need to die or be maimed before something is done? How many travellers need to be injured before both Australian and Indonesian authorities decide action is needed," Dr Choong said.

"It is time for real leadership on this issue and I call on the prime minister to work with the Indonesian president to ensure that this crime is investigated and ensure bar owners and bootleggers are held accountable for the use of methanol."

The bar was open yesterday.

"This is a crime and the bar is a crime scene.

"For no action to have been taken, as reported, demonstrates what a farce this is. Young people are being poisoned and nothing is being done. This is truly embarrassing for both governments and a slap in the face of all travellers," Dr Choong said.

Liam's family hopes to be able to take his body home this weekend.

- Taranaki Daily News

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