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Parents of former private school pupil who died in mystery fall at luxury London tower block criticise police

Zac Brettler, 19, jumped from a fifth floor balcony at the Riverwalk complex (Supplied)
Zac Brettler, 19, jumped from a fifth floor balcony at the Riverwalk complex (Supplied)

The parents of a teenager who died in a mystery fall from a luxury apartment overlooking the River Thames have criticised the Met Police for alleged failings in the investigation into his death.

Zac Brettler, 19, jumped from a fifth floor balcony at the Riverwalk complex in 2019 after spending an evening with a gangland debt collector.

The teenager, a former private school pupil in Mill Hill, had been obsessed by wealth, and had taken to calling himself Zac Ismailov and posing as the son of a Russian oligarch.

Two days before his death Mr Brettler told a friend that he was in danger and somebody had threatened his family, The Times reported, and he had also reportedly searched online for “witness protection UK”.

A murder investigation ended inconclusively, and an inquest in 2022 recorded an “open verdict” on the teenager’s death.

His parents, journalist Rachelle Brettler and financial services company director Matthew Brettler, have now spoken out to criticise the Met Police for the investigation that was conducted.

They are adamant that their son was not suicidal and had been making future plans, while accusing Scotland Yard of “victim blaming”, too readily pursuing a theory that he had taken his own life, and allegedly failing to question key witnesses.

“The omissions are highly suggestive of a degree of incompetence that it’s very hard to get one’s head around”, Mr Brettler told The Times. “You think, surely they can’t be that bad.

“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.”

In the hours before his death, phone records and CCTV show Zac Brettler was with Dave Sharma at the Riverwalk apartment.

Sharma – known as Indian Dave - was a debt collector with gangland ties and a past arrest over allegations of heroin smuggling.

Mr Brettler’s jump from the apartment was captured on a CCTV camera at the MI6 headquarters on the opposite side of the Thames at 2.24am on November 28.

Evidence has emerged that Mr Brettler, whose family hailed from Maida Vale, had been claiming before his death that his father had died and his Dubai-based mother was blocking access to his inheritance.

Mr Sharma apparently agreed to let him stay at the Riverwalk apartment while the inheritance dispute was solved.

When Mr Brettler jumped from the balcony, the inquest heard he struck his hip before going into the water and then drowned. He had also suffered a broken jaw, with the cause of the injury remaining undetermined.

His body was found the following morning on the banks of the river, though it took several days for him to be identified.

His parents say suspected blood stains at the apartment were not forensically tested by police.

Mr Sharma, who died in 2020 from an apparent overdose, was arrested in the murder investigation, said The Times, but did not face criminal charges.

The Met Police said in a statement: “Our sincere condolences remain with Zac Brettler's family, and we understand the uncertainty about how their son died must continue to be the cause of unimaginable pain.

“Whenever someone dies unexpectedly in London, we have established policing protocols to follow, and the investigation into Zac's death was led by an experienced detective.

“The team worked hard to explore every possible hypothesis, which were shared with Zac's family, but ultimately we were not able to provide fuller answers.

“The case was also reviewed by specialist homicide detectives to ensure every line of enquiry had been exhausted.

“As with any case, we would always encourage anyone who they believes they have additional information or evidence to contact police. Any new information will be examined on its own merit by a team led by experienced detectives.”