Police are investigating how a talented Hampton schoolboy got hold of fat burning pills that killed him.
Chris Mapletoft is believed to be the youngest person to die after taking Dinitrophenol (DNP), an industrial chemical sold online and used as a quick-fix slimming aid.
The toxic substance cannot legally be sold for human consumption but can be sold to use as a chemical pesticide.
Chris was in the upper-sixth form at Hampton School and was a star player of the school’s rugby team, winning player of the tournament in the Jack Chester memorial competition last year.
He had recently completed his A-levels and was hoping to study a business degree at a London university. His grades, which were enough to attend university, were released after his death.
The 18-year-old fell ill at his home in Kneller Road, Twickenham, on June 18, and died later that day.
It was initially believed that he had contracted meningitis and his death was treated as unexplained.
An initial post-mortem examination was inconclusive but the inquest into his death at West London Coroner’s Court on September 9, established the cause as 2, 4 - Dinitrophenol toxicity.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.
The death is the latest in a series of tragedies blamed on the poison, which interferes with the normal way the body gets energy from fat and can lead to death from overheating.
DNP was launched as a slimming aid in 1933 but was banned five years later due to its side-effects., which include nausea, cataracts, skin lesions and rapid or irregular heart beat.
The drug can be bought on the internet for £2.20 for 200mg capsules and has caused three deaths in Britain in the past year.
Hampton School said they were committed to doing all they could to prevent similar tragedies in the future and would continue to educate pupils and parents on nutrition, healthy eating, positive body image and safe use of the Internet.
Headmaster Kevin Knibbs said: “Chris was a much loved and talented pupil with a very bright future ahead of him.
“Our heartfelt condolences remain with the Mapletoft family and they are uppermost in our thoughts at this profoundly sad time.
“He was a sportsman certainly but he was also a very serious academic too and, most importantly of all, and this is top of our list, he was a fantastic guy, much loved and greatly respected here by all of us, staff and pupils.”
Police are investigating where Chris bought the DNP pills and warned of their risk.
A police spokesman said: “We are working with the council's public health service, children’s service and community safety teams to highlight the risks of DNP and other dangerous substances that may wrongly be promoted or taken to enhance performance or appearance.
“The Food Standards Agency and Public Health England are aware of the case and are supporting local action.”
Anyone with information regarding the distribution or availability of DNP should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
MORE RICHMOND AND TWICKENHAM NEWS