Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Poisoned drink kills Kiwi teen

It's murder, says anguished grandfather as 19-year-old loses fight for life after drinking methanol at New Year party.

Liam Davies, 19, died six days after becoming ill in Indonesia and being airlifted to his family's adopted hometown of Perth. Photo / Facebook
Liam Davies, 19, died six days after becoming ill in Indonesia and being airlifted to his family's adopted hometown of Perth. Photo / Facebook

A Kiwi teenager has died after drinking a methanol-laced drink while celebrating New Year in Indonesia - and his grandfather says the death is "murder, really".

Taranaki-born Liam Davies was on the island of Lombok with friends, and became ill on January 1.

After several days in a local hospital, he was flown to Perth for specialist treatment, but died yesterday.

Liam's death has sparked warnings from health experts for Kiwi travellers to be wary.

His grandfather, Terry Prentice, told the Herald news of the 19-year-old's death was a terrible shock.

"We're not doing very well. It's not every day you lose a grandchild," he said.

"He was a good kid, a great kid. He was good to have around, a joy to be around.

"I think people need to be aware if they're going to go away and drink spirits ... I wouldn't trust them. I'm not too keen on this at all. It's murder, really."

Liam went to a New Year party, and fell ill the following day.

He was taken to a local hospital, where it was established he had been poisoned by a methanol-laced drink.

Methanol is a toxic chemical sometimes added to cheap drinks to make them more alcoholic.

Effects of methanol poisoning include vomiting, gastric pain, liver failure, comas and sometimes blindness and death.

After consultation with Australian specialists, Liam was airlifted last Thursday from Denpasar in Bali to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth - where he had been living with his parents, Lhani and Tim, and two brothers since he was about 6 - and put on life support.

Mr Prentice said Liam was an apprentice in the building industry and had had a bright future.

He was also a talented sportsman who had been in the Australian under-18 lacrosse team.

Mr Prentice wanted something done to prevent more deaths. "But that will never happen; it's pie in the sky. I feel like going across there and doing something myself ... especially after the other two - the footy player and the nurse who were poisoned."

Liam is the second New Zealander to die from methanol poisoning in Indonesia in five months.

In September 2011, former Dunedin man Michael Denton, 30, died in Bali while on a trip with his Perth rugby team after consuming arak, a potent local drink, which was thought to have been methanol-contaminated.

His inquest was held in Dunedin, and coroner David Crerar said foreign ministries should warn citizens about the dangers of drinking arak, which also blinded an 18-year-old Australian school leaver in Bali last month.

Three days before Mr Denton's death, Sydney nurse Jamie Johnston, 26, collapsed in Bali after drinking a cocktail spiked with methanol.

She had brain damage and kidney failure, but survived.

Mr Prentice urged holidaymakers to think twice before touching any locally brewed alcoholic drinks in countries such as Indonesia.

"Apparently the beer's okay, but if you're going to drink spirits, buy your own at the duty-free shop and stick with that."

Lhani and Tim Davies issued a statement after Liam's death, urging people to be careful when drinking overseas.

It is understood the family were at Liam's side when he died.

"We would like to make people aware of the risks associated with consuming locally brewed drinks where you cannot be certain of the quality," the grieving parents said.

- NZ Herald

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