Online steroid dealer who sold toxic ‘Russian Roulette’ DNP diet pills to bulimic student, 21, is convicted of manslaughter for second time after appeal
- Bernard Rebelo, 32, was initially jailed in 2018 for seven years for manslaughter
- He sold illegal Dinitrophenol pills to bulimic Eloise Parry who overdosed on them
- The poisonous substance was used as a base for munitions products in WWI
An online dealer who sold deadly diet pills to a bulimic student has been convicted of manslaughter for the second time after an appeal.
Bernard Rebelo, 32, from Gosport in Hampshire, was initially jailed in 2018 for seven years over the death of ‘troubled’ Eloise Parry, 21.
A jury deliberated for a day to find Rebelo guilty for a second time after the Court of Appeal last year ordered a retrial at the Old Bailey.
Bernard Rebelo, 32, from Gosport in Hampshire, was initially jailed in 2018 for seven years over the death of ‘troubled’ Eloise Parry, 21 (pictured)
Ms Parry had died in April 2015 after taking eight pills containing the poisonous Dinitrophenol (DNP), described online as ‘the devil’s cut agent’.
The defendant was accused of buying the powder from a chemical factory in China, and selling it on as tablets to people around the world, including Ms Parry.
The court had heard how the yellow powder Ms Parry consumed was often advertised as a slimming product, but the known side effects included multiple organ failure, coma, and cardiac arrest.
During the First World War, it had been used as a base material for munitions products.
A jury deliberated for a day to find Rebelo (pictured) guilty for a second time after the Court of Appeal last year ordered a retrial at the Old Bailey
Prosecutor Richard Barraclough QC had told the jury that online forums compared consuming the chemical to ‘Russian roulette’, adding: ‘If you take it, you might live, or you might die.
Ms Parry, from Shrewsbury in Shropshire – who had been diagnosed with the eating disorder bulimia, became ‘psychologically addicted’ to the chemical after she started taking it in February 2015, jurors heard.
The court heard that DNP was particularly dangerous to those who suffer from eating disorders as the toxicity level is relative to a person’s weight.
On March 10, 2015, Ms Parry was admitted to Wrexham hospital after collapsing, and texted a friend saying: ‘I f***** up. A&E. DNP overdose. Feel so f****** stupid.
‘I knew I could not control my eating disorder well enough to take them safely, I knew it. It’s not going to matter how skinny I am if I’m dead.’
Three days later, she messaged: ‘I don’t want to die, I never meant to hurt myself, I just felt so desperate.
Ms Parry had died in April 2015 after taking eight pills containing the poisonous Dinitrophenol (DNP), described online as ‘the devil’s cut agent’
‘I’ve been trying so hard to be okay with my body and myself that I pushed down all of those negative feelings instead of dealing with them.’
Rebelo, who ran his business from a flat in Harrow, west London, had sold DNP on two websites which have both since been taken down.
The prosecution alleged that he did so despite knowing of the dangers of taking it.
Mr Barraclough said: ‘He knew it was dangerous, not only because one of his associates had consumed DNP and had suffered some of its toxic effects… but because it was well-known that any number of authorities and organisations were warning against the dangers of consuming the chemical.’
Rebelo denied manslaughter, but declined to give evidence in his defence at the retrial.
He imported the drug from China and tricked UK customs by mislabelling packages as turmeric.
He demanded online payment via the crypto-currency Bitcoin and managed to resurrect his websites after they were repeatedly taken down by the FSA and Interpol.
Rebelo was importing the chemical for £340 for a 24 kilo drum and repackaging it in capsules to make a profit of £200,000 per drum.
DNP, the ‘extremely dangerous’ drug sold as a weight loss aid
DNP is sold as a weight loss aid, but has been described as ‘extremely dangerous to human health’ by doctors.
It is sold mostly over the internet under a number of different names but contains 2, 4-Dinitrophenol.
It is marketed mainly to bodybuilders as a weight loss aid as it is thought to dramatically boost metabolism.
The manufactured drug is yellow and odourless and was previously used as a herbicide and fungicide.
It was launched as a slimming aid in the US in the 1930s but then banned in 1938, due to the severe side-effects.
Depending on the amount consumed, signs of acute poisoning could include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration and irregular heart-beat, possibly leading to coma and death.
It enabled him to live a life of luxury and he posed for pictures behind the wheel of a his Porsche and Corvette sports cars wearing one of his collection of Rolex watches.
He admitted selling Ms Parry the pills but said a warning on his website indicated it was not for human consumption – even though the drug was sold in capsule form.
Following his conviction on Monday, the defendant was remanded into custody to be sentenced by Mrs Justice Whipple on Tuesday.
Of the 98 reported cases of DNP poisoning in the UK between 2007 and 2017, 14 resulted in death. There were six deaths in 2015 alone, the court heard.
When Rebelo was convicted of manslaughter after his first trial in 2018 the victim’s mother Fiona Parry said: ‘Dealing with Eloise’s possessions is something I still haven’t done. When I try to sort through them I can’t.
When Rebelo was convicted of manslaughter after his first trial in 2018 the victim’s mother Fiona Parry (pictured with other members of Eloise’s family) said: ‘Dealing with Eloise’s possessions reduces me to tears’
‘It still reduces me to tears.
‘Eloise had many problems in life but I had always hoped that somehow they would be sorted.
‘In the latter part of her life there were positive signs that things were changing for the better.
‘She had found a career she wanted to follow and she had positive plans for the future, like travelling and seeing the world not just a career.
‘When Eloise died, her life was undone and her possible future was unravelled. In that moment the hope that I had for her was also destroyed.’
Excerpts from Ms Parry’s diary read to the court revealed her battle with the horrendous eating disorder while she studied at Wrexham Glyndwyr University.
‘If only I could take a knife and cut all of the disgusting folds of fat out of my body,’ Ms Parry wrote.
‘I keep playing my suicide plan over and over in my head. Places no one will think to look, no one will find me until it’s too late.
‘Despite what anyone convinces me to believe, it always leads back to how pathetic, useless and annoying I am. There’s always something wrong.
‘I don’t want to look down at my body, I can’t sleep. Every position I lie in reminds me of how much fat there is hanging from my body.
‘My legs remind me of jelly. I hate my boobs, legs, face, stomach, arms, feet. My whole body wobbles constantly and my face is chubby and ugly.
‘I have a frequent urge to cut my stomach out. I imagine putting a blade down my throat so no food can be taken in.
‘I need to be smaller [so]… no one will stare anymore when I eat in public but that won’t happen if I look like I’ve just eaten a buffet for 500.
‘My belly sticks out. I hate everything.
‘I need to be lighter so people don’t think I’m a man.
‘I wish I could rip my heart out so I don’t have to feel this pain anymore.’
Ms Parry pleaded with mental health services to help her battle her illness in the months leading up to her death, the court heard.
‘My last shred of hope in the mental health services is going out to you. Please take it and give me a belief that you think I’m worth helping,’ she wrote in a letter to doctors.
‘Please give me practical ways while I’m in redwood to cope when the negative thoughts get stronger. Give me ways to keep fighting so that when I’m at home I have a way of getting out of the downward spiral.
‘Crisis chose to put me in a unit but didn’t check on me. It was only my own strength in a moment of clarity that made me walk away from the knife and the 96 paracetamol laid out on the floor in front of me.
‘When I go home I know it will be the same old rubbish from Crisis, call us if you need anything.’
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