Why DID public schoolboy bounce to his dying from elite residence block?

Towering over the Thames, with ‘panoramic views’ of the MI6 headquarters that featured in current Bond movies, the Riverwalk is considered one of London’s most sought-after addresses.

Residents of its residences, which change arms from round £4 million, embody singer Tom Jones and movie star plumber Charlie Mullins, together with an array of financiers, enterprise tycoons and ultra-rich foreigners.

They park their supercars in its underground storage, work out in an on-site health club, and instruct ‘concierges’ to hold out day by day chores. Uniformed safety guards are readily available across the clock to maintain the riff-raff at bay.

Lately, nonetheless, scandal has sullied these perfumed corridors.

To the dismay of privacy-obsessed residents, the Riverwalk finds itself the backdrop to a rare ‘whodunnit?’ with virtually as many twists and turns as a 007 thriller.

At its centre is the dying of Zac Brettler, a 19-year-old former public schoolboy whose grandfather, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, was a much-loved panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze.

Zac Brettler, 19, died after leaping from a fifth-floor apartment at Riverwalk one Friday morning in November 2019. He had left school just five months earlier

Zac Brettler, 19, died after leaping from a fifth-floor residence at Riverwalk one Friday morning in November 2019. He had left faculty simply 5 months earlier

Towering over the Thames, with ¿panoramic views¿ of the MI6 headquarters that featured in recent Bond films, the Riverwalk is one of London¿s most sought-after addresses

Towering over the Thames, with ‘panoramic views’ of the MI6 headquarters that featured in current Bond movies, the Riverwalk is considered one of London’s most sought-after addresses

Zac died after leaping from a fifth-floor residence at Riverwalk one Friday morning in November 2019. He had left faculty simply 5 months earlier.

His physique was discovered on the foreshore at low tide by a passing jogger simply earlier than dawn. His jaw had been damaged, and he had suffered an damage to his hip. A paramedic’s report described him as ‘cold to the touch and extremely stiff’.

Grainy video footage of his remaining moments was captured on CCTV cameras on the spy HQ on the alternative financial institution of the Thames. It exhibits Zac had walked onto the balcony of a brightly-lit residence, quantity 504, simply after 2.20am on November 29.

He then appeared to climb onto a glass balustrade, stroll up and down just a few occasions, then bounce within the path of the river.

The large query is: why?

Police initially suspected both suicide or a tragic accident. But quickly the plot thickened. For though there was nobody else on the balcony, shut examination of the CCTV footage revealed somebody’s silhouette might be seen shifting across the property on the time.

It turned out to belong to Dave Sharma, a infamous gangster and suspected drug kingpin nicknamed ‘Indian Dave’ who owned the multi-million-pound residence.

He was considered one of two a lot older males Zac had spent the earlier night with. The different was Akbar Shamji, a Cambridge-educated businessman and chum of Sharma whose Tory-donor father, Abdul, was jailed for perjury within the late Nineteen Eighties.

The vibrant duo have been arrested on suspicion of homicide and brought for questioning at Charing Cross police station on December 5, simply days after {the teenager}’s physique was discovered.

Each vehemently denied wrongdoing, insisting that Zac was an expensive pal who had been within the grip of heroin dependancy. They speculated that he should have both dedicated suicide, or have suffered his deadly accident whereas making an attempt to sneak away from the property to buy medicine.

Zac was the grandson of Rabbi Hugo Gryn, a much-loved panellist on BBC Radio 4¿s The Moral Maze (pictured)

Zac was the grandson of Rabbi Hugo Gryn, a much-loved panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze (pictured)

Rabbi Hugo Gryn shakes hands with Prince Phillip as the Queen meets representatives of faith groups in 1981

Rabbi Hugo Gryn shakes arms with Prince Phillip because the Queen meets representatives of religion teams in 1981

Be that as it could, it wasn’t totally clear why these two grown males, of their 50s and 40s respectively, had been hanging round with a younger Jewish boy barely out of faculty.

What’s extra, digital proof, together with footage from a variety of CCTV cameras, quickly proved that the majority of Sharma and Shamji’s preliminary claims about their actions that night time had been unfaithful.

For instance, Sharma had insisted he was asleep when Zac died, saying he had not woken up till 8am. In reality, he’d made a collection of telephone calls into the early hours.

Shamji, for his half, claimed to have left the residence lengthy earlier than Zac jumped from the balcony and gone straight dwelling to Mayfair. However, detectives found that he’d been referred to as by Sharma whereas driving dwelling, carried out a U-turn, and returned to Riverwalk.

He then spent round 20 minutes within the residence earlier than descending to the bottom ground and strolling exterior, the place he was filmed peering into the Thames on the spot the place Zac had hit the water.

When police requested why he’d gone there, he recommended he’d gone exterior for a smoke, including: ‘It’s a pleasant little bit of river. I typically sit there.’

Asked to clarify why their preliminary recollection of occasions had been false, Sharma refused to remark and Shamji mentioned his reminiscence was foggy.

By then, detectives had come throughout textual content and WhatsApp messages suggesting the duo’s relationship with Zac had gone significantly fallacious within the run-up to the incident.

On the morning of Zac’s dying, Sharma had, for instance, messaged Shamji to say: ‘I’m pondering, f*** this little child!’

And simply hours earlier than Zac jumped from the balcony, Shamji had texted a pal urging him to come back to the residence, saying: ‘I’ve simply been heating up knives and cleansing up blood . . . sh**’s about to go fallacious. Wrong!’

Police quickly made an additional curious discovery: within the months main as much as his dying, Zac was residing a weird double life pretending to be ‘Zac Ismailov’, the son of a Russian oligarch.

Using this alias, he’d attended a collection of enterprise conferences with Shamji wherein he’d pretended to be in search of methods to speculate an unlimited household fortune.

Shamji, who denies wrongdoing, claims to have been unaware that his 19-year-old companion, who dressed like a personality from the TV collection McMafia, was really residing together with his dad and mom in a comparatively modest flat in London’s Maida Vale.

Shamji later emigrated to the U.S. together with his spouse, Daniela Karnuts, founding father of a high-fashion model referred to as Safiyaa whose £2,500 frocks have been worn by celebrities corresponding to Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama.

He stays there to this present day, and in November 2022 gave proof by way of video hyperlink at Zac’s inquest, which recorded an open verdict.

Sharma, for his half, was discovered useless in residence 504, apparently from a drug overdose in December 2020. Neither man was ever charged in relation to Zac’s dying.

It is, all advised, a extremely uncommon saga, which poses a number of unanswered questions. And which makes it all of the extra shocking that, for greater than 4 years, all the episode seems to have been stored beneath wraps.

There were no tearful press conferences involving Zac¿s parents ¿ Rachelle, a journalist, and father Matthew Brettler, who works in finance (pictured)

There have been no tearful press conferences involving Zac’s dad and mom — Rachelle, a journalist, and father Matthew Brettler, who works in finance (pictured)

Detectives selected to not challenge any plea for details about both Zac’s remaining moments, or his weird Russian alter ego, within the weeks and months that adopted the incident.

The coroner’s inquest went unreported. There have been no tearful press conferences involving Zac’s dad and mom — Matthew, who works in finance, and Rachelle, a journalist.

In reality, it wasn’t till this week that particulars of the case lastly turned public. Having apparently misplaced hope that police would ever resolve how Zac died, Matthew and Rachelle advised their story to the New Yorker journal.

They then issued a rare condemnation of the police investigation, citing a collection of alleged failings that they imagine prevented these liable for the incident from dealing with justice.

The couple, each 61, accused officers of ‘victim blaming’, arguing that police initially did not observe up essential leads as a result of they’d chosen to imagine that Zac took his personal life.

They claimed that officers did not interview a number of key witnesses and mishandled forensic proof that might have helped set up who contributed to their son’s dying.

‘We do not understand why the police, who have a ton of evidence, CCTV, texts, even phone calls, have failed to join the dots and failed to charge Sharma when he was alive,’ Matthew mentioned. ‘It is as baffling to us as it is cruel.’

In an interview with The Times, he added: ‘The omissions are highly suggestive of a degree of incompetence that it’s very exhausting to get one’s head round. You suppose, certainly they’ll’t be that dangerous.

‘My major criticism of the police is that there was no smoking gun and that then required them to do the hard yards in terms of detective work and they never showed a real appetite for it.’

To perceive the couple’s anger, we should wind the clock again to Zac Brettler’s remaining months, when this privileged younger man from an upper-middle-class household started associating with edgy underworld figures corresponding to ‘Indian Dave’ Sharma.

Educated at Mill Hill, a £43,500-a-year public faculty in North London, the place he started to board in his teenagers, Zac was a eager cricketer and gifted tennis participant, who competed at county degree for Middlesex.

However, as he entered Sixth Form, he additionally seems to have developed a fixation with excessive wealth, maybe whereas rubbing shoulders with well-to-do classmates.

By his remaining 12 months, when he transferred to Ashbourne College in Kensington — an upmarket ‘crammer’ standard with ultra-rich foreigners — he was carrying designer garments, carrying schoolwork in a briefcase, and speaking of enterprise offers he was allegedly engaged in.

He’d registered a enterprise at Companies House referred to as Omega Stratton, which claimed to be concerned in ‘security and commodity contracts dealing activities’.

Zac had additionally begun spending giant quantities of time with Shamji, a rich businessman who lived on a flat in Mount Street, Mayfair. The duo had seemingly been first launched by Mark Foley, a businessman he had encountered who labored as a property advisor for Chelsea Football Club, then owned by Roman Abramovich.

Intriguingly, each Foley and Shamji knew the boy as ‘Zac Ismailov’. The teenager constructed a weird backstory, claiming to be inheritor to a £205 million fortune, including that following the current dying of his Russian oligarch father he was being blocked from receiving that inheritance by his Dubai-based mom.

Over the summer season of 2019, Shamji and ‘Ismailov’ held conferences at which a variety of enterprise alternatives have been mentioned. They included a real-estate venture in Lisbon, a mining funding in Kazakhstan, and the launch of a variety of CBD-infused skincare merchandise.

Most appeared to hinge on the chance that ‘Ismailov’ would have the ability to finance at the least a part of the tasks utilizing his huge inheritance — that didn’t exist.

For his half, Shamji is aware of a good bit about non-existent loot. In 1989, his Tory donor father, who as soon as hosted Margaret Thatcher on the household dwelling in Surrey, was discovered to have lied when he advised the High Court he was unable to pay a enterprise debt of £5 million.

Specifically, he claimed to haven’t any Swiss financial institution accounts, when actually he had 5. Sentencing him to fifteen months behind bars, the choose mentioned he’d ‘lied like a trooper’.

We digress. At some level after Shamji met ‘Ismailov’, Dave Sharma got here on the scene. This raised the stakes significantly.

Notorious villain Dave Sharma allowed the 19-year-old to live rent-free at Riverwalk for several weeks

Notorious villain Dave Sharma allowed the 19-year-old to dwell rent-free at Riverwalk for a number of weeks

Zac was educated at Mill Hill, a £43,500-a-year public school in North London, where he began to board in his teens (the school pictured)

Zac was educated at Mill Hill, a £43,500-a-year public faculty in North London, the place he started to board in his teenagers (the college pictured)

A infamous villain, Sharma had first come to public consideration in 2002 after being a part of a gang arrested in a heroin bust. One member, a bodyguard turned nightclub proprietor referred to as Dave ‘Muscles’ King, ended up avoiding prosecution. Before a number of witnesses, in open court docket, Sharma had angrily accused King of being a ‘grass’.

The following 12 months, King was murdered in a drive-by taking pictures exterior a health club in Hertfortshire. The gunman and his driver have been arrested.

When their case got here to trial, it emerged that moments after pulling the set off, the murderer had used a cell phone to name Sharma, who was by then residing in France.

The choose, who gave each males a life sentence, mentioned the crime, the primary wherein an AK-47 was used to homicide somebody in England, was ‘thoroughly planned and ruthlessly executed’.

By 2019, Sharma had lengthy since returned to the UK, the place he’d by some means acquired ample funds to buy the flat at Riverwalk.

Among his prison enterprises, he seems to have additionally been working as a debt collector, with a repute for unbridled bodily intimidation. As the New Yorker article places it: ‘stories circulated about Indian Dave hunting down people who owed money and dangling them off rooftops’.

After being launched to ‘Ismailov’, Sharma seems to have believed he may assist safe the supposed £205 million fortune — in return for a considerable reduce. He might also have hoped to make use of a few of ‘Ismailov’s’ money to finance his underworld enterprise offers.

As a consequence, Sharma allowed the 19-year-old to dwell rent-free at Riverwalk for a number of weeks. He and Shamji offered him with free meals, drove him in luxurious vehicles, and devoted important time to negotiating potential investments. It appears they believed their funding of money and time in Zac would generate important returns.

The downside, after all, was that his £205 million fortune didn’t exist. And the very fact seems to have progressively begun to daybreak on them by early November.

It’s unclear what precisely introduced issues to a head, however two days previous to his dying, Zac advised a pal he was at risk and any person was threatening his household.

It later emerged that he’d used Google to seek for ‘witness protection UK’ that day. At 4pm on November 28, Sharma messaged Shamji saying, ‘He’s not allowed to runaway now, he’s in [too deep] with us.’

That night, Zac was pushed to Riverwalk by Shamji in a pink Audi shortly after 9am. At round 1.25am, Shamji left Zac alone within the flat with Sharma.

What occurred subsequent has by no means been absolutely established. However, there’s proof that Sharma both assaulted and even tortured the younger man.

At 2am, Zac’s iPad was used to seek for ‘what to do with skin burns’. His jaw could have been damaged at across the identical time.

At 2.12am, Sharma telephoned Shamji for 9 minutes, after which he turned his automobile round and drove again to Riverwalk. Five minutes later, Zac leapt to his dying.

Then, at 2.34am, Shamji returned to the residence for 20 minutes earlier than going downstairs and peering into the river.

Zac’s dad and mom this week highlighted a number of obvious shortcomings within the subsequent police investigation.

When detectives searched the Riverwalk residence per week later, they found smears of blood in a bed room and on a sink, however did not forensically check them.

They by no means bothered to interview both Mark Foley or Shamji’s spouse, designer Daniela Karnuts, who had supposedly met him on the door when he ultimately arrived dwelling in Mount Street. Sharma’s chauffeur who, for causes which are unclear, was despatched to the flat the place Zac lived together with his dad and mom in Maida Vale on the morning after he died, was by no means interviewed both.

Although Sharma died earlier than he may very well be prosecuted, police did move a file on Shamji to the CPS. But they determined to not prosecute him for perverting the course of justice.

Shamji, who seems now to work in cryptocurrency within the U.S., advised the inquest that he ‘wasn’t a chief protagonist’ in Zac’s demise.

Although the coroner discovered that Shamji knew the younger man had jumped off the balcony when he returned to Riverwalk, and that he was ‘looking for Zac’ when he wandered exterior, Shamji continues to disclaim wrongdoing.

The police, in the meantime, have supplied ‘condolences’ however insist their investigation was competently dealt with. ‘The case was also reviewed by specialist homicide detectives to ensure every line of enquiry had been exhausted,’ they mentioned this week.

‘Any new information will be examined on its own merit by a team led by experienced detectives.’

Zac’s dad and mom, for his or her half, take the view he jumped from the balcony with a purpose to escape hazard, having been rumbled as an imposter.

They level out there is no such thing as a proof he was suicidal, noting that he’d utilized for a provisional driver’s licence on the night of his dying, and had been making different long-term plans.

Neither was he a heroin addict: no medicine have been present in his physique, and a check, carried out surreptitiously by a household doctor just a few months earlier, got here again damaging.

‘Our best guess,’ mentioned his father, ‘is that Zac, a bit bored with his lovely, stable home life was seeking adventure . . . The terrible thing is, he got in with the wrong people and he got in way too deep.’

The actual secrets and techniques of what occurred on the Riverwalk that night time have, sadly, been taken to his grave.