Prospective Cambridge student killed himself after being blackmailed over nude photographs

Dinal De Alwis, a pupil at Whitgift School, wanted to study economics at Cambridge

A prospective student for the University of Cambridge took his own life after being blackmailed over nude photographs, an inquest heard.

Dinal De Alwis, a 16 year old pupil at £48,000 per year Whitgift School, jumped to his death from a building in Sutton, south London, in October 2022, SWNS reports.

He had recently attended an open day at Cambridge where he had wanted to study economics. The “bright” pupil had achieved straight A*s in his GCSEs and was “top of the school for English and Economics.”

King’s College, Cambridge (Image credit: Katie Thacker)

A Met Police investigation found that in the hours before his death Dinal had received iMessages from a man who was threatening to send two nude images to “all of his followers” if he did not send him money.

The man was using a virtual private network (VPN) to mask his location but detectives believe he was “probably based in Nigeria”.

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?” and demanded “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, made Google searches for “quick and easy ways to die” on the day of his death. An hour before Dinal took his life, he Googled “tall buildings near me.”

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 27th October 2022. His father Kaushallya De Alwis, who attended the inquest, said: “He messaged my wife and I to say he loved us, and he told his brothers that he loves them, and said they need to “look after mum and dad.”.”

Mr De Alwis said the family, who live in Wallington, near Sutton, 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.

Dinal De Alwis (Image credit via just giving)

“Dinal was the most caring son,” said a tearful Mr De Alwis, “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. “It is still a big question mark,” Mr De Alwis said.

Discussing the Met Police investigation, Assistant Coroner Sian 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.”

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.

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

Whitgift School, where Dinal was a pupil

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

London Ambulance Service were called at 03:35am on Thursday October 27th, 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: “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.”

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.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, Calm (Campaign against living miserably) on 0800 58 58 58, and Student Minds online here. For support in Cambridge, contact Nightline on 01223 744444. You matter.

Featured image credit via just giving (Dinal) and Matilda Head (King’s College)

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