The chief executive of Boohoo today told an inquest through tears how he slapped his 20-year-old’s face then did CPR in a desperate bid to revive him after finding him dead in bed following a drugs binge. 

Louis Butler Lyttle – son of the clothing firm’s boss, John – was found unresponsive in his room at his family’s secluded mansion in Kent on April 20, just days before his 21st birthday. 

Mr Lyttle heard his son’s alarm ringing at 5.50am to wake up for work but when he entered his bedroom, Louis appeared grey and was cold to the touch.

He slapped his face but there was no response so carried out CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Paramedics took over at the family’s home in a private road near Sevenoaks, but informed his heartbroken parents he had died at 6.20am and may have already been dead for a couple of hours.

A post-mortem found his cause of death was morphine toxicity.

Toxicologist David Rose found ‘potentially fatal levels’ of morphine in Louis’ system.

Cocaine and by-product benzoylecgonine were also present but his blood alcohol level was below the drink drive limit.

Louis Lyttle, the son of fast fashion chain boss John Lyttle, died at home near Sevenoaks in April after an overdose, an inquest has heard

Louis Lyttle, the son of fast fashion chain boss John Lyttle, died at home near Sevenoaks in April after an overdose, an inquest has heard

Louis Lyttle,  20, the son of fast fashion chain boss John Lyttle, right, died at home near Sevenoaks in April after a drug and alcohol binge, an inquest has heard

‘The richest shopkeeper you’ve never heard of’: Who is Boohoo CEO John Lyttle? 

John Lyttle, 51, was born in Ireland and after leaving school joined Primark as a trainee store manager.

Irish-born Mr Lyttle worked in Dublin where he met his future wife Clodagh, who also worked for the business in the 1990s.  

He rose through the ranks to the role of head of buying before joining the Arcadia Group, run by Sir Philip Green, as buying director in the UK.

Mr Lyttle then worked at Matalan for five years as trading director before returning to Primark in 2010.

He oversaw sales rocket to over £7billion in his role as chief operating officer.

When he was appointed chief executive of Boohoo its executive chairman Mahmud Kamani described himself as ‘thrilled’ to have him on board.

He described himself as a keen runner in a recent interview, but showed the scale of his ambition at the clothing company.

Mr Lyttle said: ‘We might have started in the UK market. But really what we want to be is truly a global player’.

He is said to earn £1.6 million a year in the post he took up last March – reportedly operating on a salary of £615,000 plus a potential annual bonus of £900,000.

And if he can boost Boohoo’s value from £2 billion to £5 billion, he stands to take home an eyewatering £50 million bonus.

In a recent interview, he described himself as a ‘straight talker’.

But he has had to battle a number of scandals in his first year in the job. 

It is alleged staff were paid way below the minimum wage and were not given up-to-scratch PPE.

Mr Lyttle has been forced to launch a review into what has happened in the company’s UK supply chain.

Boohoo have found no evidence that staff were paid £3.50 per hour. 

Coroner Alan Blunsdon said today: ‘This was the death of a naive young man who used a high level of substance with catastrophic effects.

‘There is no evidence of drug addiction or abuse.

‘Immediately before his death Louis had used illicit drugs but the circumstances of that use have not been revealed by the police investigation.

‘There is no evidence or suspicion to support Louis intended to take his own life.’

Mr Lyttle, who attended the inquest at County Hall in Maidstone, Kent by video link, appeared tearful as Mr Blunsdon recorded a verdict of misadventure and passed on his condolences to the family.

Detective Inspector Sarah Stevenson found Louis on the floor next to the bed after he had been moved in attempts to revive him.

She also found a large matchbox, a very small amount of white substance, two small pieces of cling film and an empty vitamin pipette in the bathroom.

Bottles of beer were also hidden behind the pipework and empty lager cans were stuffed inside a suitcase concealed in his room.

Ms Stevenson believed ‘these were elements that he didn’t want to be seen’ as his parents were unaware of the hidden alcohol.

She spoke with the father to identify that it was his son Louis and found his driving license and passport in his bedroom.

His bag had also been packed to go to work the following morning.

A GP report found he ‘did not have any significant medical history’ and denied taking any medication or recreational drugs when seen on July 3, 2019.

The family had a takeaway on the Friday evening but Louis told his dad he had been sick all night.

He appeared unwell throughout the whole of Saturday but was able to have breakfast on Sunday morning.

At around 4pm, Louis went out in the car and didn’t say where he was going.

Mr Lyttle assumed he had ‘popped to the supermarket’ and returned around an hour and a half later.

Louis had two beers and a glass of wine with his Sunday dinner at 8pm before being found dead the following morning.

In a statement read out by Mr Blunsdon, the deceased’s father said: ‘Louis was a positive character and had plans for the future.

‘He was positive about work.

‘As parents we had a concern he may have used drugs recreationally.

‘He did say he been experimenting but didn’t say what.

‘He did say he had been taking Xanax because he was stressed with exams.

‘But we had no concerns about Louis’ lifestyle or mental health.’

In a statement read out by the coroner, Louis, pictured was described as a 'positive character'

In a statement read out by the coroner, Louis, pictured was described as a ‘positive character’

Louis, who worked for his father John (pictured) at Boohoo, was pronounced dead by paramedics at 6.20am on April 20

Louis, who worked for his father John (pictured) at Boohoo, was pronounced dead by paramedics at 6.20am on April 20

The family’s home is on a private narrow country lane surrounded by woodland and fields with three adjoining properties on the sprawling private gated estate.

Louis’ LinkedIn profile says he had been working as a ‘business professional’ at Boohoo since last July, having previously interned at investment banking firm Investec.

He attended the independent King’s School in Canterbury, Kent – where fees are as high as £27,495 a year.

Louis later studied business management at Cardiff University but his ‘heart wasn’t in his degree’ and he quit during his second year at Easter 2019.

Louis – born in Galway, Ireland – also interned at Indian financial services company Religare.  



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