Two people from Gosport have gone on trial accused of the manslaughter of a student who suffered the ‘most distressing’ death after becoming ‘psychologically addicted’ to a toxic slimming aid she bought online, a court heard.
The night before her death, Eloise Parry, 21, had taken eight of the diet pills containing the poisonous Dinitrophenol (DNP).
Prosecutor Richard Barraclough QC told Inner London Crown Court that taking the chemical has been described as ‘playing Russian roulette’, as ‘you might survive, you might not’.
Albert Huynh, 33, from Northholt, north-west London, Bernard Rebelo, 30, and Mary Robert, 32, both from Gosport, deny two counts each of manslaughter, and one count each of supplying an unsafe food. Roberts faces a single count of money laundering.
It is alleged that Rebello and Roberts used the money to live a lavish lifestyle, splashing out on designer handbags and luxury cars.
The trio are being prosecuted for manslaughter by Harrow Borough Council over Ms Parry’s death.
They are also charged with supplying an ‘unsafe’ food supplement containing DNP on the market between February 24 2014 and February 24 2016.
Roberts denies a further charge of money laundering by allegedly transferring £20,000 for and on behalf of Rebelo.
Mr Barraclough said: ‘On April 12 2015, a vulnerable and young woman aged 21 years suffered a most distressing death, having bought from the defendants - on the internet - and consumed a highly toxic chemical called Dinitrophenol (DNP).
‘Eloise Parry had an eating disorder and had been diagnosed as bulimic.’
Jurors were told that Ms Parry started taking the chemical in pill form in February 2015.
In the weeks before her death, Ms Parry - who had a history of self-harming - was admitted to hospital numerous times, suffering from the effects of taking the chemical.
She sent desperate messages to her friends telling them she wanted to stop taking the pills but was ‘psychologically addicted’ and knew that feeling her temperature rise meant her fat was burning, jurors heard.
Between February and April 2015, the student at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, allegedly made multiple purchases of DNP from the defendants’ website.
On the day she died, Ms Parry took eight 250mg tablets within a short period. While the poison took over her body, she placed another order for more pills, the court heard.
But feeling unwell, she drove herself to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire on April 12 2015.
From there, she messaged a friend, saying: ‘I screwed up big time. Binged/purged all night and took four pills at 4am.
‘I took another four when I woke and I started vomiting soon after. I think I am going to die.
‘No one is known to survive if they vomit after taking DNP. I am so scared.’
The student from Shrewsbury died at 2.44pm on April 12, and an inquest was held around three months later.
Jurors heard searches later found links to news reports of Ms Parry’s death saved on a mobile phone belonging to one of the defendants.
They allegedly later changed the domain name of their website and asked customers to pay by Bitcoin only.
The court heard the defendants bought the yellow powdered chemical in drums from China, and knowing that it was not suitable for human consumption, took efforts to ‘deceive’ the authorities.
Operating from a flat in Harrow, north-west London, they made the capsules which they sold online for considerable profits.
Jurors were told that while a 25kg drum of DNP could be bought for between £340 to £400, it realised a profit of up to £200,000.
Mr Barraclough said: ‘They (the defendants) knew that DNP was dangerous, not only because two of them had consumed DNP themselves.
‘But also because it was well known in the area in which they were operating that any number of authorities and organisations had warned against the dangers of consuming this chemical.’
It is alleged the defendants ‘cynically thwarted’ authorities such as the Food Standards Agency and Interpol which tried to close down their operations.
Describing DNP, and its effects, Mr Barraclough said it was a ‘highly toxic substance when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin’.
He added that it causes weight loss by burning fat and carbohydrates, in turn causing energy to be converted into heat.
‘The result is that that person’s temperature and metabolic rate all dangerously increase,’ Mr Barraclough explained.
Jurors heard that among other things, DNP could cause multiple organ failure, hyperthermia, nausea, coma, muscle rigidity, cardiac arrest and death.
‘Essentially, this is what happened to Eloise Parry,’ said Mr Barraclough.