‘Gifted’ student at exclusive London school took his own life after nude photos blackmail

By Staff

A ‘gifted’ and ‘caring’ student at one of Britain’s most exclusive schools took his own life after being blackmailed over nude photographs, an inquest has heard. 16-year-old Dinal De Alwis, who attended the £48,000 per year Whitgift School in South Croydon, jumped to his death from a building in Sutton in October 2022.

His family described him as their ‘golden boy’, who has recently attended an open day at the University of Cambridge. Dinal had wanted to study economics.

The Metropolitan Police service found during an investigation that, in the hours before his death, Dinal received iMessages from a man who was threatening to send two nude photos to ‘all of his followers’ if he did not send him money. The sender was using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide his location, but detectives say he was ‘probably based in Nigeria’.

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The suspect said: “So you think blocking me can stop me? What do you want me to do – you want me to send to all of your followers? Why can’t you just pay me? £100?”

Dinal responded: “I’m trying to find a building high enough for me to jump off.” Forensic analysis of Dinal’s phone and laptop also discovered that the young student, who had only recently received straight A*s in his GCSEs, were carried out. South London Coroner’s Court heard that Dinal’s mother, father, and two brothers had received ‘goodbye’ messages from the 16-year-old in the early hours of October 27, 2022.

His dad Kaushallya De Alwis, who attended the inquest, said the family, who live in Wallington, reported Dinal as missing to the police – telling officers they had discovered that Dinal had plans to jump off a building after logging into his Snapchat.

‘The most caring son’

Mr De Alwis said: “Dinal was the most caring son. He was bright. He got straight A*s in all of his subjects at GCSEs and was top of the school for English and Economics.

“We come from Sri Lanka, so we were so proud to hear he was so good at English. He was brave. He played for the football and rugby teams at Whitgift School. He never asked for anything from us. He was always happy with what he had.

“His loss is the biggest possible loss. It is so incredibly painful. He was our golden boy. The fact that he ended his life in this way […] the world is so cruel.”

Police did not establish how the suspect managed to get hold of the photographs. Mr De Alwis said: “It is still a big question mark.”

Assistant Coroner Sian Reeves explained that she had to establish whether or not Dinal had intended to take his life when he jumped from the building, and asked Mr De Alwis if he wanted to offer any of his thoughts on what her conclusion should be. She said: “It sounds like it came as a huge surprise for you all.”

Mr De Alwis responded: “It is a massive surprise for us. He didn’t show any sort of unhappiness at all. I think he wanted to avoid any shame from the images going public.

“I wish he had spoken to us. He had always been so open in the past. But I think when things are happening online, live, it feels like there is no time.”

Ms Reeves said: “It is important to stress that Dinal did nothing wrong.” Mr De Alwis added: “Yes. He did nothing wrong.”

Suspect ‘probably resides in Nigeria’

Discussing the Met Police investigation, Ms Reeves said: “Police found that the suspect resided outside of the UK, probably in Nigeria, and had been using various VPNs to mask his location. Detectives conducted an investigation, but due to the suspect being out of the jurisdiction, they did not consider there was a realistic prospect of locating the device or succeeding in prosecution.”

South London Coroner’s Court also heard that a man called Bradley Hill had been the first to discover Dinal. Ms Reeves said: “He was driving in his works van along Sutton Court Road when he found a young black male lying on the floor.

“He was bleeding from a head injury. He called the ambulance and went to the nearby police station.”

London Ambulance Service (LAS) were called at 3.35am on Thursday October 27, 2022. They arrived in 10 minutes and started CPR, but Dinal was sadly pronounced dead at 04:07am.

Police later found that CCTV had captured a young man approaching a building clad with scaffolding. Footage showed the young man falling from the building and landing on the ground at around 3.25am.

A post-mortem found Dinal had suffered ‘extensive fractures to the skull’ and ‘corresponding injuries to the brain’. No drugs or alcohol were detected in his system.

Detailing her verdict, Ms Reeves said: “I want to start by saying I have been particularly moved by the evidence of Dinal’s father. The world has lost a bright star – a boy gifted both academically and in sports.

“On October 27, 2022, at around 3.20am, Dinal climbed a multi-storey building clad with scaffolding. Around five minutes later, CCTV captures Dinal descending from the building and landed on the ground.

“Sadly, he sustained unsurvivable injuries. Based upon the findings presented in this inquest, including the CCTV, the iMessages Dinal received, the Google searches he made, and the goodbye messages he sent to his family, I find that he did intend to take his own life.

“I say that with no criticism to Dinal. He died from multiple injuries sustained from a jump at height. I record a conclusion of suicide.”

She also expressed her condolences to Dinal’s family. Addressing his father Mr De Alwis, she said: “I also express my thanks for the dignified way you have conducted yourself on this most awful day.”

Former students of Whitgift School in south London include England rugby stars Elliot Daly and Danny Cipriani, illusionist Derren Brown, plus England cricketers Rory Burns and Jason Roy.

You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help.

Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email [email protected], in confidence

Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill

PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141

Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to other information

Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit

Bullying UK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying. Click here

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. Has a website and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58

For information on your local NHS urgent mental health helpline, visit here

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