Nathaniel Isaac, 20, died in his halls of residence as he nursed a severe hangover, an inquest heard today
A model university student died in his halls of residence as he nursed a severe hangover, an inquest heard today.
Nathaniel Isaac, 20, had been out drinking with a fellow undergraduate in the run up to New Year and had sent a text to his friend the following day saying: ‘My body feels crippled lol.’
The young man was found dead on January 5, 2018 at his student flat in Hulme, Manchester, which had been locked from the inside.
He had remained undiscovered for five days until his family raised concerns about his welfare and asked college security to check on him.
During a 20-month investigation into the tragedy extensive tests were carried out to find out how Nathaniel had died but experts were enable to establish a cause of death.
Police even went to great lengths to investigate unsubstantiated claims made by the dead student’s father that Nathaniel was poisoned with arsenic by his fellow students.
But no trace of the toxic substance could be found in his system and a pathologist ruled out any suspicious circumstances.
The Manchester hearing was told that Nathaniel lived with his family on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands outside of term time.
He was described as a ‘model student’ and had been in his first year of a Business and Computer Engineering course at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The university student who was in his first year of a Business and Computer Engineering course, was found dead on January 5, 2018 at his student flat in Hulme, Manchester
During a 20-month investigation into the tragedy extensive tests were carried out to find out how Nathaniel had died but experts were enable to establish a cause of death
Fellow student Jonny Speight, 21, told the inquest: ‘He was extremely academic and clever – he always had top marks in class.
‘He was well liked by all the professors that taught him. He was a straight-A student who had time to socialise and go out with his friends.
‘I would go out and socialise with him and we would drink alcohol but he often talked often about the gym and running and he was very health conscious.
‘At Christmas 2017, I was at work back in my home town and I believe he made plans to go out on New Year and stay in Manchester.
‘The last time I spoke to him was over Snapchat on December 31.
‘He had been out the night before with a course mate whilst I had been at work.
‘He had been out in Manchester and he said: ‘My body feels crippled lol.’
‘I assumed by the ‘lol’ that he was hungover from the night before as there were no other health problems as far as I knew.
‘But that was the last message he sent me.
‘There were no phone calls or other messages or contact.’
Another student who knew him said: ‘I very much saw Nathaniel as an academic and gifted.
‘He always came into university on time everyday and he was always the person to show the teacher his work.
‘He was planning to stay in Manchester over Christmas and into the New Year and I spoke to him a couple of times prior to the New Year.
‘We were in contact over Snapchat and WhatsApp but I received a phone call from Nathaniel’s father who said he hadn’t heard from him for a few days and wanted me to check on him.
‘I wasn’t sure why, I don’t know if Nathaniel hadn’t replied to him.
‘He liked computer games and he had a Play Station 4 and I thought that may be why he wasn’t responding.
‘He also might have been hungover.
‘That day I saw my mate walking down the road and he told me what happened…
‘I can’t explain how much of a good friend Nathaniel was to me. I had that instant connection with him and he was so good, I don’t understand why and how it happened. It still gets to me.’
Nathaniel was described as a ‘model student’ by his friends. The last contact he made with his friends was a message saying ‘my body feels crippled lol’ as he nursed a hangover
Detective Inspector Gavin Smith of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘There were two tissues stuffed up both of Nathaniel’s nostrils as if for a nose bleed but there was no evidence of trauma or any physical attack.
‘A security guard and one of his friends had gone into his room and found him.
‘He was in the room which was locked from the inside.’
Police Coroners Officer Ian Taylor added: ‘It felt like a natural cause of death.
‘We turned on the TV in his room and the PlayStation was on standby mode and this is the last thing we presumed he had been doing.
‘His father came to the UK after the death of his son and he was deeply suspicious about the cause of his son’s death.
‘My attempt at reassurance didn’t stop or change his suspicions and he made me aware of the different methods and different people who were involved in some way.
‘They were not specific and not based on evidence, they were speculative – but his father suggested he may have poisoned by arsenic.
‘After correspondence with him, somebody purporting to be a doctor told us the discolouration in his fingers and toes might be an indication of someone who may have been poisonings by arsenic.
Coroner Nigel Meadows has since recorded a verdict of death by natural causes
‘Nathaniel’s father then sent me pictures of his son’s hands and feet and stated that a doctor said this was signs of arsenic poisoning.
‘I did take some statements but got nothing that would confirm this.
‘There was never any reason or evidence put forward to suggest anybody had any reason to harm Nathaniel.
‘He seemed to be the model student, a perfect young man, normal, a likeable man, and I didn’t find one person who didn’t refer to him in a way different to the glowing person he was.
‘It can be very hard for a parent to believe this happened to their loved one.
‘They desperately seek some explanation for what happened. Nathaniel was one of five children but the only son.
‘In the British Virgin Isles his academic record demonstrated what defines this young man and his potential.’
Miriam Mkumbwa, Operations Manager at the university said: ‘One of our customer service advisors received a phone call from Nathaniel’s father who was concerned about his whereabouts.
‘One of our security maintenance officers went to the flat. He knocked on the door to no reply and entered the room with a master key.
‘The fob had not been used to enter the room since Nathaniel locked it from the inside the room at 2.58am on December 31 and then it was not accessed again until by the security officer at 9.51am on January 5.
‘There were no other activations since then.’
Dr Julie Harman, leader of the department at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: ‘Nathaniel was a very active member of his programme, he was a hard working and conscientious student. He was engaging with his studies.
‘Everybody saw him as the ‘poster boy’ for the programme.
Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, coroner Nigel Meadows said: ‘It is not uncommon for people to be found deceased in places such as hotels, private accommodation, flats and houses.
‘Nathaniel was an academic and gifted student, hard-working and a conscientious person, who was performing well.
‘He had had no altercations, fights or other circumstances with anyone.
‘He was social, he went to the gym, he drank alcohol but did not take illicit drugs.
‘He regularly met with Mr Speight and Mr Jackson whilst staying at the university accommodation.
Dr Julie Harman, leader of the department at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: ‘Everybody saw him as the ‘poster boy’ for the programme.’
There was contact with Mr Speight on December 31, where he simply suggests he’s feeling unwell through the interpretation of the message and he couldn’t go anywhere.
‘But the exact reason why he was feeling like that he doesn’t specify.
‘He was last seen leaving early to mid evening on December 30 and returning in the early hours of December 31.
‘Whilst Nathaniel’s death was unexpected, there was no suspicious circumstances. It is not uncommon for people to be found dead with no obvious explanation for their deaths.
‘Sometimes people who are young and healthy die suddenly and unexpectedly and it’s not entirely clear why it’s happening.’