Diet pills dealer jailed for seven years over student's death
Bernard Rebelo sentenced for manslaughter of Eloise Parry, 21, who took toxic DNP pills
An online steroid dealer who sold toxic slimming pills that killed a bulimic student has been jailed for seven years.
Bernard Rebelo, 31, from Gosport in Hampshire, was convicted this week of manslaughter and placing unsafe food on the market, and he was sentenced on Friday at Inner London crown court.
Eloise Parry, 21, from Shrewsbury, died in hospital on 12 April 2015 after taking eight tablets containing the poisonous substance dinitrophenol (DNP) that she had bought from Rebelo.
The judge, Jeremy Donne, described Parry as an “intelligent, articulate young woman who struggled with her mental health”.
He said: “She thought she had found in your so-called fat-burning capsules a magic solution for her distorted body image and difficulties with bulimia nerviosa. She was of course quite wrong.”
Donne said Rebelo had shown “no remorse at all” for causing her death. “You are said to be a loving family man, devoted to your daughter. I hope you can reflect on what the death of Eloise has meant to her mother, sister and extended family,” he said.
“While there was only one death attributable to your conduct, very many people were at risk. You indiscriminately supplied DNP, a highly toxic industrial chemical, via the internet. You had no way of controlling who would purchase it, and it was highly likely that those with eating disorders – possibly even the very young and impressionable – would buy it.”
Parry’s family sat together in court for the sentencing. Her mother, Fiona, said her daughter had “many problems in life” but there had been “positive signs that things were changing for the better”.
In a statement read to the court, she said her daughter had made plans for the future, including obtaining a degree, starting a career and travelling the world.
“When Eloise died her life was undone and her possible future unravelled and in that moment the hope I had for her was also destroyed,” she said.
Parry’s sister Rebecca, 19, said in a statement read out during the trial that Parry had been focused on losing weight. In the weeks and months leading up to her death she had struggled more and more with her eating disorder, the sister said.
Rebelo admitted while giving evidence during the trial that he had sold DNP to Parry. He told the jury that he included a warning on his website that the substance was not for human consumption.
The judge said Rebelo had made more than £200,000 in profit from his dealing.
Jurors were told that Parry started taking the chemical in pill form in February 2015 and soon became addicted and dependent.
The trial heard that DNP could cause multiple organ failure, hypothermia, nausea, coma, muscle rigidity, cardiac arrest and death. Depending on a person’s body weight, just 200mg of DNP can be lethal.
Felicity Gerry QC, defending, said in mitigation that the case was “distressing and sad”, but it was “not a case where there is any intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm”. She said there was no evidence of harm to anyone other than Parry.
Rebelo’s girlfriend Mary Roberts, 32, was previously cleared by the jury of money laundering after she was accused of transferring £20,000 for and on behalf of Rebelo.
She sat in the public gallery with other family members and supporters.