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.
The boyfriend of a 17-year-old First Nations woman who died in Queanbeyan has been accused of making up a “pack of lies” as he allegedly gave inconsistent versions of events surrounding her death.
The inquest into the death of Wiradjuri woman Charli Powell, who apparently suicided in Queanbeyan early in the morning of 11 February 2019, began in the NSW Coroners Court earlier this week.
The court heard she allegedly endured domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend before he testified himself on Thursday (3 March).
Counsel assisting Jake Harris told him that her family thought he had caused her death and asked if he had done it.
“Definitely not,” he replied.
“There’s been a f-king feud between that family and my family for a long time.”
Michael Bartlett, the lawyer representing Charli’s mother Sharon Moore, asked the boyfriend why Charli’s phone number was saved into the contact list on his phone as “slut”.
“[That] shows a complete lack of respect for that girl, doesn’t it?” Mr Bartlett asked.
“It was just anger. It wasn’t lack of respect,” the boyfriend replied.
Mr Harris read out what appeared to be the last messages Charli sent to her boyfriend on 9 February.
“Deadset, I’m moving on. I want nothing more to do with you. You aren’t using me anymore. You’re just a junkie who lies to everyone to get what he wants,” she wrote.
She also told him, “I hate you”, and that she would tell every girl who dated him, “You’re a woman basher, a liar and a cheater, and most of all a user”.
In court, her boyfriend admitted this would have upset him and probably made him angry.
While the court heard he had allegedly given several inconsistent versions about what happened on the night Charli died, he testified to the court she had been at his home on 11 February when they’d argued at about 3:30 am over where they were going to sleep.
He said she told him she was going back to her mother’s house and left, but claimed she rang him and said she was going to kill herself. He said he asked where she was, but she would only tell him she was at a toilet block. He told her he would come and find her, “then I heard the phone hit the ground”.
He said he didn’t disconnect the call, put his phone in his pocket and rode a bike to look for her, starting at toilets near the Queanbeyan train station. He said he found her in the toilet block at the oval of the Queanbeyan Kangaroos Rugby League Club and tried to do CPR before running to a nearby home for help.
Mr Bartlett attacked the alleged inconsistencies in the versions he made in court and to police, telling him, “Your whole story is a pack of lies, isn’t it?”
“You have your opinion,” the boyfriend replied.
Under questioning from Mr Harris, he said his relationship with Charli was “pretty up and down” and they often had heated arguments, particularly when alleging each other had been cheating.
“We’d argue… [then] we’d meet up, we’d sort it out and we’d be sweet,” he said.
He denied there was violence in their relationship but admitted he’d threatened her, although he claimed she made threats to him as well.
The boyfriend was confrontational at times in court, screaming and swearing at Mr Bartlett, and at one point telling Mr Harris, “Don’t try and mix my f-king words up”.
“I feel like they’re trying to trick me,” he told Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.
She asked him what he thought when he looked back on his relationship with Charli, now that he was older, and he replied that some of it was “f-king toxic” and what he had done was “putrid”.
“We were both young. We didn’t know what the f-k to do,” he said.
“I understand there was mistakes there. I’m not the same person I was when I was 17.”
Deputy State Coroner Grahame said she thought there had been a lot of evidence the boyfriend had a temper.
“He’s got demons in him,” she said.
The inquest’s evidence concluded that afternoon, but just before it did, the boyfriend’s supporters stood up to leave early and shouted and swore at Charli’s family and friends while yelling that they loved him.
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.