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Boohoo chief executive tells inquest of how he found son Louis Lyttle unresponsive in bed

The chief executive of fashion company Boohoo described the heartbreaking moment he found his son unresponsive in his bedroom just 10 days before his 21st birthday.

Louis Lyttle died in his family home in Seal, Sevenoaks, on April 20 after taking a fatal dose of morphine.

Louis Lyttle. Picture: LinkedIn
Louis Lyttle. Picture: LinkedIn

He worked for his father, John Lyttle, the CEO at the clothing firm, as a digital marketer.

At an inquest at County Hall, Maidstone, today, coroner Alan Blunsdon read out a statement on behalf of the retail boss, who joined via video link, detailing the desperate attempts he made to revive his son.

He said: "I went onto the landing in our family home and I heard his alarm going off at 5.50am as this is the time we're both due to get up for work.

"I went into his room and saw him lying in bed. He was grey and I realised something was wrong.

"I called for his mother and slapped his face.

Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle. Picture: Boohoo
Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle. Picture: Boohoo

"He was in bed as if he had been asleep. His phone was under his duvet. His bag was packed for work."

After calling for an ambulance Mr and Mrs Lyttle were advised to move Louis onto the floor to carry out CPR.

He continued: "Louis felt cold but we were hopeful he would be saved."

Paramedics took over when they arrived at the family's mansion but soon delivered the devastating news Louis had died at 6.20am. It was likely he may have already been dead for a couple of hours, the inquest was told.

A post-mortem found his cause of death was morphine toxicity. The drug, along with cocaine, was found in his blood.

"This was the death of a naive young man who used a high level of substance with catastrophic results."

A report by toxicologist David Rose stated that, while the level of morphine proved fatal, it fell within the limits of a "naive user".

According to his LinkedIn profile, Louis was a former pupil at the King's School in Canterbury , studied business management at Cardiff University and had worked at Boohoo since July last year.

His family were aware he may have experimented with recreational drugs while at university but he showed no signs of substance misuse or dependency.

DI Sarah Stevenson from Kent Police arrived to find Louis on the floor.

When giving evidence today she said there was no indication Louis tried to take his own life or harm himself.

During her investigation she found a large matchbox, a small amount of white substance and two small pieces of cling film in his bathroom.

Empty bottles of beer were also found inside a bag in his wardrobe.

DI Stevenson said she believed this was "an element of his life he didn't want his family to see" and was out of character for the young man whose bedroom was otherwise kept tidy.

Summing up, Mr Blunsdon said: "Louis had a promising career in digital marketing, was in good health, a member of a loving and supportive family and on the threshold of a successful career in digital marketing.

"Immediately before he died he had used illicit drugs and the source has not been revealed by the police investigation.

"There is no evidence to support the suspicion of Louis trying to take his own life.

"I doubt he understood the effects of morphine which can lead to a potential to stop breathing.

"This was the death of a naive young man who used a high level of substance with catastrophic results."

He concluded the cause of death was by misadventure before sending his condolences to the family.

John Lyttle took over as chief executive of Boohoo in March 2019, after previously working as Primark's chief operating officer for almost 10 years.

He is said to earn around £1.6 million a year in the post.

The firm recently faced criticism following allegations of poor pay and working conditions at a textile factory used to produce some clothing items for the online fashion firm.

Some workers at the Leicester factory were allegedly paid £3.50 an hour - well below the £8.72 minimum wage for 25s and over - while also failing to offer protection from coronavirus.

Mr Lyttle has said the claims - if true - are "totally unacceptable" and promised to take action.

Read more: All the latest news from Sevenoaks

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