Heartbroken dad’s warning after teenager’s drug death

The heartbroken father of an 18-year-old who died from an accidental overdose at a house party has urged parents to warn their children not to make the same "silly mistake".

Enzo Congiu's daughter Marli who died in January after taking GHB - also known as liquid ecstasy or fantasy - said that this tragedy could happen to anyone even if you talk to your children about the dangers of recreational drugs.

Speaking to The Catholic Weekly, Mr Congiu said he doesn't want any other parent to go through the agony he and his family have endured since the former Brigidine College student died three months ago. On the eve of the school holidays, he has urged parents to sit down with their children and tell them Marli's story.

"To put it simply, you can't watch your children 24/7, no matter how well you raise them and trust them, this can happen to anyone," he said.

"Most people get to learn from their mistakes, but Marli didn't have that opportunity".

"She was 18, not a drinker and had no real interest in drugs. We spoke about them often and she knew the risks. We are all at a loss over what's happened, it was one of those stupid things teenagers do and has left us all completely heartbroken".

Marli Cartmer-Congiu, 18, had recently finished her HSC at Brigidine College in Randwick last year, and had plans to take a gap year before studying nursing at ACU.

Enzo Congiu with his daughter Marli.
Enzo Congiu with his daughter Marli.

Over the Australia Day long weekend, Mr Congiu dropped his daughter off at her part-time job at a takeaway shop at Mascot before she was to spend the night with a girlfriend.

Her last words to her father was "I love you" before she got out of the car not knowing it will be the last time Mr Congiu saw his daughter.

Around 6am the next morning Marli's mother Kate was told her daughter had been rushed to hospital and was fighting for her life.

On arrival, the parents found her suffering irreversible brain damage after being starved of oxygen and at 1.30pm her heart stopped beating.

Tributes flowed on social media as friends said they would remember Marli for her beauty and as a talent that had gone too soon.

Marli and boyfriend Gully Thomas who has set up a fundraising campaign in her honour.
Marli and boyfriend Gully Thomas who has set up a fundraising campaign in her honour.


"My beautiful angel. May god hold you tight," Karah Davis wrote on Facebook.

"R.I.P angel, gone too soon," Evia Chalmers wrote on Facebook.

"You will always be missed, loved & thought of forever beautiful girl," Maiya Moeller wrote on Facebook.

Her death followed the loss of five other young people who died after taking drugs at several NSW music festivals over the summer.

The deaths triggered a national debate over pill testing and whether it would stop more young lives being taken away.

However, Mr Congiu believes the test won't put a stop on young people taking a silly risk with deadly consequences no matter what laws are introduced.

Ms Cartmer-Congiu's boyfriend Gully Thomas has set up a fundraising campaign, 1000 Reasons for Marli, for the Prince of Wales Hospital's new Emergency and Intensive Care Unit in the hope that teenagers will think twice before experimenting with drugs.

The apprentice plumber wants to spread the message that "we need to say no to drugs" and will be surfing a thousand waves in six months in memory of the young teen.

"I want to stop the next kid from being there. To make some sense from this tragedy I'm working with the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation to do all I can to help my local hospital save lives," said Mr Thomas.

"We're dealing with a time-bomb and the chances seem that more and more of us young Australians are going to die if we don't do more."