On 27th June 2018, Bernard Rebelo was convicted of placing unsafe food (Dinitrophenol) on the market and of the gross negligence manslaughter of Eloise Parry.
Richard Barraclough KC prosecuted.
A student at Glyndwr University died after taking eight diet pills, containing dinitrophenol (DNP), supplied by Bernard Rebelo. Eloise Parry, 21, relied on hospital treatment several times for the side effects of the tablets. With a history of mental health problems, including bulimia and a borderline personality disorder, Eloise began taking the pills in February 2015, quickly becoming addicted.
DNP has been declared unfit for human consumption in the US since 1938, causing weight loss through converting energy into heat. It is a highly toxic substance when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, but Rebelo purchased the chemicals from China, bypassing the FSA and other authorities, and made the capsules to be sold online. Rebelo denied manslaughter, saying that although he sold the pills to Eloise there was a warning about DNP on his website. However, he has been told to expect a lengthy sentence.
Eloise Parry’s sister, Rebecca, told the trial that her sister was “focused” on losing weight prior to her death, and that she seemed “too enchanted by her weight loss to acknowledge how unhealthy she was getting”. According to a statement read to the court, Rebecca was with Eloise on 11 April, the evening before she died, leaving her at about 9pm. The next day, Rebecca noticed that her sister had binged on food before taking the pills.
Hours before her death, Eloise Parry texted her university lecturer saying,
“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.”
Rebelo’s Harrow flat was searched by police and Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, said, “This sets a precedent that we can now prosecute people for selling pesticides, like DNP, online as a slimming agent.”
Rebelo was sentenced to seven years in jail.