As part of his pre-flight inspection, the pilot completed a water check on each of the wing tanks and operated the fuel strainer knob, although a sample was not drawn from this point. During the flight the pilot noticed a strong smell of fuel and as he turned back towards the DEPARTURE aerodrome the engine lost power. The pilot carried out a forced landing into an area of dense light timber, during which the aircraft struck several trees. The fuel strainer drain was found to be open due to a kink in the operating cable and the pilot had not checked that the drain had closed after its operation during the pre-flight inspection. During flight loss of fuel through the strainer drain resulted in a gradual loss of fuel pressure and the engine lost power due to fuel starvation after about 40 minutes of flight.