9 March 2022

Charli would 'light up the room': heartbroken family details their loss

| Albert McKnight
Charli Powell

Charli Powell, described as a bubbly person who would light up a room, was only 17 when she died in Queanbeyan. Photo: Supplied.

First Nations readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died (published with permission).

This article discusses domestic violence and suicide.

When Wiradjuri woman Charli Powell was younger, she and her little brother Lachlan would jump on the trampoline out the back of their house in Karabar. They would talk about the future they hoped for, the jobs they wanted, the cars they would drive and the homes they dreamed of living in.

“Now I go to work every day and every week, just so I can make sure we have that house she wanted and that car she wanted,” Lachlan said in a statement written for the inquest into her death.

“All the travels we ever planned, now I have to do it myself for her, because she is no longer here to reach that goal we both [had]. I love you Charli and miss you more than I could ever explain.”

Charli was just 17 when she died in Queanbeyan on 11 February 2019, apparently by suicide. An inquest began in the NSW Coroners Court earlier this month to examine the circumstances of her death, including considering whether it was self-inflicted or if it was caused by another person.

The court heard she allegedly faced domestic violence from her boyfriend, but while he testified they had a “toxic” relationship at times, he denied causing her death.

After the evidence for the inquest ended last week, her family presented a written statement to the court in which they described the “beautiful” person Charli was and laid bare the heartbreaking loss they feel for her to this day.

“I now have to find the twinkle in my eye again, that spark that you had the ability to make everyone you knew feel,” her mother Sharon Moore said.

“I honestly feel like I will never get that twinkle back – my heart is shattered.”

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Charli is the second of Sharon’s seven children. She remembers Charli as a happy and caring child, someone who would always make sure everyone else was okay.

As she grew up, the pair developed a close relationship and Charli became her mother’s “shadow”.

“Although I never got to see you grow into adulthood, at 17 years old I could see that you already were a better version of me,” Sharon said.

“I could not believe that [Charli’s father] Doug and I had created such a beautiful, caring young woman.

“I am truly in awe of who you [had] become, wise and kind beyond your years.”

Sharon said when her daughter walked into a room, it “actually did light up” with her cheeky giggle and husky voice.

“You had the ability to make people feel so loved and safe, because you knew tomorrow was a new day, a better day,” she said.

Sharon Moore and friends and family of Charli Powell

Sharon Moore holds a photograph of her daughter Charli Powell, surrounded by the 17-year-old’s friends and family at the start of the inquest into her death. Photo: Albert McKnight

Kerrie Moore, Charli’s aunt, described her as a person with an “infectious laugh and giggle and stunning blue eyes” who was also a “mother hen” from a young age, always fussing over her cousins and younger siblings.

“From the moment Charli could walk and talk, you knew when Charli was in the room,” she said.

The grief hasn’t stopped at Charli’s family. It has engulfed those who knew her.

Kaitlin Sanderson, her best friend, said she had a laugh that could “make anyone’s day go from bad to good within a split second”, along with a bubbly and bright personality.

She said to say her life was empty without Charli was an understatement.

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“Everything about life is different. There is a massive shadow of grief that will stick with me forever, a constant feeling of guilt when achieving new things in life as I don’t want my life to go on without her,” Ms Sanderson said.

“Charli, I promise I will continue to live life for the both of us as yours was robbed from you.”

Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame is scheduled to hand down her findings in the inquest in May.

Charli’s identity is published with the permission of her family.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, Lifeline 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline 1800 551 800. In an emergency call 000.

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