Essex

Essex backpacker Cheznye Emmons died after drinking fake gin

  • 16 June 2014
  • From the section Essex
Cheznye Emmons
Cheznye Emmons had been travelling with her boyfriend when she became ill

A backpacker was fatally poisoned in Indonesia when she drank gin that had been mixed with methanol, an inquest has heard.

Beautician Cheznye Emmons, 23, of Great Wakering, Essex, was travelling with her boyfriend Joe Cook when she drank the spirit in April last year.

A hearing in Chelmsford heard she suffered sudden blindness and convulsions and died five days later.

Her mother and father said they were determined to prevent further deaths.

Ms Emmons was on a six-month trip around Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia and was staying in Bukit Lawang, northern Sumatra, when she fell ill, the inquest heard.

Others in her group also reported feeling ill after the drink, which had been bought from a shop and with a seemingly legitimate label.

'Stick to beer'

The Emmons set up their Save a Life Campaign soon after her death and hope to distribute 20,000 posters to doctors' surgeries to highlight the dangers.

Speaking after the hearing, her father Brenton Emmons said methanol was often mixed with spirits and wine in the areas where Cheznye had been travelling.

"It's very hard to tell the difference - sometimes there are bits floating in it, sometimes it might smell funny," he said.

"This is being sold in shops, restaurants and bars - places where you might think it is safe.

"But the message is really 'stick to beer' because otherwise you don't know what risk you are taking."

Her mother Pamela Emmons described her daughter as "lively and outgoing".

"It was like having a chunk of your heart ripped out but we know that she'd be proud of what we're doing to try to save lives."

Miss Emmons' parents said it was "impossible" to get figures on similar deaths

Because of how such deaths are recorded abroad, the family said it was impossible to know how many others had died in the same way.

"The problem is the symptoms of methanol poisoning are a lot like a hangover and people think they can just sleep it off," said Mr Emmons.

"That's what Cheznye tried to do and she died as a result."

Coroner Eleanor McGann concluded Ms Emmons died as a result of misadventure.

She said: "It is clear that she went off travelling expecting to enjoy life and to learn.

"Sadly this ended in her tragic death."

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