THE death of talented teenager Rory Wai, 18, at his home in Wivenhoe last year shocked the Colchester community.

Rory's death came just a matter of days before the Colchester Sixth Form College student was set to pick up his A-Level results, and he had his whole life ahead of him.

An inquest into the well-known youngster's death took place on Wednesday at Chelmsford Coroner's Court.

Here is what we know about the tragedy:

Death 'most likely' related to nitrous oxide

The death of a talented and adored son and brother was “most likely” related to drug use, an inquest heard.

Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard Rory was found dead in his bed by his brother, William.

William had last seen him alive at around 4pm, but when he ventured upstairs to his room later that evening to ask if he wanted any dinner, he found his brother lying face down and unresponsive.


  • Rory Wai died suddenly at his home in Wivenhoe

Pathologist Dr Shaobin Wu said a post-mortem examination showed damage to Rory’s lungs, while his kidneys had symptoms of acute renal failure.

Dr Wu told the court although the cause of death was unascertained, it was “most likely” related to drug use.

She listed the use of nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, as a possible factor in such cases of sudden death but added “I cannot give a definite cause of death.”

Death recorded as an accident

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “I have given this careful consideration and the evidence Dr Wu has given is that the cause of death is unascertained.

“But from her evidence it was more likely than not Rory’s death was drug related.

“I am going to record that he died as a result of an accident, that he took a deliberate action that had an untoward result and outcome.”

Mum pays tribute to beloved son

His devastated mum Sally Anderson-Wai told the Gazette her son had ambition, a keen intelligence and a will and drive to do his best.


  • Sally and Rory Wai

The inquest held at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard Rory’s sudden death was possibly related to the use of nitrous oxide.

Det Insp Kevin Hughes told the court: “It was a tragic case, which can bring home some of the dangers of drug use.”

After the hearing, Sally said Rory had been hardworking and kind. He had already held down jobs in a chip shop, as a dog walker, a paper delivery boy and a lifeguard.

“He was listening to motivational tapes and he had a ten year plan,” she said.

“He was thinking of becoming a property developer, he’d cleared his bedroom out and had a whiteboard with all these things to do on it.”

Rory had considered studying engineering at university and was planning a trip to America.

"He didn’t live to know how well he'd done”

Just weeks before he died, he saved a boy’s life while working as a lifeguard at Valley Farm Caravan Park, Clacton.


  • Rory was a lifeguard at a caravan park in Clacton

He had also worked at Brightlingsea Lido after completing his A-Levels at Colchester Sixth Form College.

Sally said: “He didn’t live to know how well he had done.”

When Rory’s results arrived, his family saw he had achieved an A grade in Maths and B grades in Physics and Chemistry, as well as a B in AS-Level Accountancy.

Sally said: “After passing all of his 11 GCSEs he won the top prize for Maths in Year 11.

“After he died a couple of his friends came up and said they really loved Rory and it was because he had helped them when they were being bullied at school.”

Rory also leaves behind his dad, Henry, and brothers William and David.

Family want death to be deterrent

Sally added: “Rory’s death has devastated us.

“We hope it might act as a deterrent to young people who might think twice about taking drugs or experimenting with laughing gas.

“People think laughing gas is OK but it’s really not.”