Home-made booze kills brother, sister and friend in Australia

The moonshine contained amounts of highly toxic methanol. Photo / Frank Redward
The moonshine contained amounts of highly toxic methanol. Photo / Frank Redward

Three people died after drinking moonshine illegally distilled in a neighbour's house so strong that one sip could paralyse the drinker's arms for 15 minutes, it has been alleged.

The neighbour, Mary Miller, who allegedly made the moonshine using wine she bought at auction for $2 a bottle, will be giving evidence at the inquest into the three deaths being held in Walgett, New South Wales.

Bottles of the moonshine revealed alcohol and highly toxic methanol, which can be fatal in small amounts of just 100ml or less, the inquest has been told this week.

At the house where two of the victims, brother and sister Sandra Boney, 40, and Norman Boney, 46, lived, police found at least 100 empty alcohol bottles lying around a tank on the north side of the house at Collarenebri, in the state's north-west.

The other victim was Sandra Boney's boyfriend Roger Adams, 37, who died just six weeks after her death.

"Witnesses from the community suggest that Sandra, Norman and Roger had been drinking moonshine for months before their deaths, possibly up to six months prior," counsel assisting the coroner Peggy Dwyer told the inquest.

She said it was illegal in Australia to distil alcohol without a license.

All three victims died of organ failure and "organising pneumonia" after a history of alcohol abuse.

After drinking just one nip of a red moonshine, a friend of theirs suffered numbness in her arms for 10 to 15 minutes.

"She purchased some moonshine rum, different to the red drink, for $30. It tasted like methylated spirits," Ms Dwyer said.

"Some of the moonshine contained highly toxic levels of methanol. Liquid from some of the [other] bottles seized smelled like apple juice and unleaded petrol."
Police began their investigation after Sandra Boney died in February last year; Norman Boney died two weeks later and Adams died a month later after convulsing, vomiting blood and suffering a heart attack.

Dwyer said Miller and her friend Graham Stewart had co-operated with police and said they used the distillery to make their own spirits, which they gave as gifts or as part of a battering system.

Dwyer said the inquest would not be judging the three victims nor their community in relation to alcohol abuse.

"A major aim is to learn the lesson from these very sad deaths, and to educate the community and the broader public about the dangers of home-made alcohol use," she said.

"The aim is to save lives."

The inquest before deputy state coroner Helen Barry continues.

- news.com.au

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