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Nicole Bicknell inquest: Perth teen wanted to drink 18 shots of alcohol to mark birthday

23 May 2017

The boyfriend of a Perth teenager who died after drinking a potent brand of alcohol at her 18th birthday party has told an inquest into her death how he woke the next day to find her unresponsive, cold and with blue lips.

Nicole Emily Bicknell was celebrating with friends at a barbecue at her mother’s house on November 1, 2014.

A coronial inquest today heard Ms Bicknell told her friends she wanted to drink 18 shots of alcohol that night to mark her 18th birthday.

It heard, in addition to several alcoholic drinks throughout the evening, she consumed an entire bottle of Midori during a drinking game.

She then began drinking from a bottle of high strength liquor called Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany, or Polmos, a rectified spirit from Poland which has an alcohol content level of 95 per cent.

Nicole Bicknell's boyfriend Jason Roberts walks outside court with an older woman holding his arm.

 

The Australian Medical Association called for the potent liquor to be banned, two years before Ms Bicknell’s death.

Similar subsequent calls from her family prompted some major outlets to remove Polmos from their shelves, but it is still available from a number of online retailers.

Boyfriend carried Bicknell to bed and tried to look after her

Ms Bicknell’s boyfriend Jason Mark Roberts told the inquest that on the night of her death, he had less to drink than Ms Bicknell because he wanted to be “responsible for her”.

He said he was familiar with Polmos but did not know how strong it was.

“I presumed it was a normal spirit like vodka,” Mr Roberts told the court.

He described how he had carried Ms Bicknell to bed in the early hours of the morning after she started to fall asleep.

He placed her in the recovery position, monitored her breathing and assisted her as she vomited.

He then fell asleep and woke later in the morning to find her unresponsive.

“I noticed that she was cold, then noticed her lips were blue,” he said.

Family members called an ambulance and commenced CPR but Ms Bicknell was pronounced dead a couple of hours later.

‘She stopped being bubbly’

A friend of Ms Bicknell’s, Colt Murray, told the inquest he had brought the half-full bottle of Polmos to the party.

He had purchased it from a well-known liquor store chain.

“I was pretty cautious with it,” Mr Murray said.

“I wasn’t chugging it because I knew it was strong.”

He said Ms Bicknell had taken the bottle out of his bag and he had warned her about its potency.

“I said ‘you can have some if you want, it is strong though’,” Mr Murray told the court.

He said he witnessed Ms Bicknell’s condition deteriorate after she had drunk the high-content alcohol.

“She stopped being bubbly, got more drowsy and started slumping,” he said.

She was carried to bed a short time later.

Mr Murray said earlier in the night he was one of a group of friends who cheered when Ms Bicknell declared she had consumed her 18th drink for the evening.