1. ITV Report

"It was like having a chunk of your heart ripped out" - parents speak out after daughter is poisoned by bootleg alcohol

Cheznye Emmons died after drinking contaminated alcohol while travelling. Photo: ITV News Anglia.

The parents of a British backpacker fatally poisoned by contaminated alcohol have spoken of their determination to prevent further deaths.

Beautician Cheznye Emmons, 23, died after drinking gin which had been mixed with methanol while travelling in Indonesia with her boyfriend Joe Cook in April last year.

Cheznye was travelling in Indonesia with her boyfriend Joe Cook. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Today an inquest in Chelmsford heard she had the drink - bought from a shop and with a seemingly legitimate label - with friends in Bukit Lawang, northern Sumatra.

She was rushed to hospital after experiencing sudden blindness and convulsions and died five days later.

Outside the hearing, her family, from Great Wakering, in Essex, described how they had campaigned to prevent other families experiencing such heartbreak.

Mother Pamela Emmons described her daughter as "lively and outgoing".

"She was focused on what she wanted to do with her life. She had lots of friends and had raised money for charity.

"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."

– Pamela Emmons, Cheznye's mother.

The family launched their Save a Life Campaign soon after the death and soon hope to distribute 20,000 posters highlighting the dangers to doctors' surgeries.

"In a lot of these countries they mix methanol with spirits and wine without a thought for the dangers.

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

"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."

– Brenton Emmons, father.
Brenton Emmons, Cheznye's father. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Because of how such deaths are recorded abroad, the family say it is impossible to know how many others have died in the same way.

Mr Emmons said that, since launching the campaign, they had become aware of hundreds of other cases of people falling ill, with some dying.

"The problem is the symptoms of methanol poisoning are a lot like a hangover and people think they can just sleep it off," he added. "That's what Cheznye tried to do and she died as a result."

One of the contaminated bottles of gin, bought when Mr Emmons retraced his daughter's steps last year. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Ms Emmons was on a six-month trip travelling around Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. She had been staying in the local Rain Forrest Lodge when she fell ill, the inquest heard.

Others in her group also reported feeling ill.

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."

To see ITV News Anglia's interview with Cheznye's father last year, click here.