Killed by the 'Dark Net' - dad's warning over son's drug death

23-year-old Alon Boulton, from Tackley, who died after taking a powerful synthetic painkiller believed to have been bought from the Silk Road website which has since been closed down by the FBI

23-year-old Alon Boulton, from Tackley, who died after taking a powerful synthetic painkiller believed to have been bought from the Silk Road website which has since been closed down by the FBI

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE father of a 23-year-old, who died after taking synthetic heroin believed to have been bought on the ‘Dark Net’, has called for more education about the dangers of drugs.

It is thought Alon Boulton bought Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller for cancer patients that is 100 times more potent than morphine, from the black market website Silk Road, which has been shut by the FBI.

The physics undergraduate took the drug – in the form of a nasal spray – at his family home in Tackley, near Kidlington, but passed out and choked on his own vomit.

An inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

His father, Richard Boulton, 51, has described those who run “immoral” websites like Silk Road, where users can trade guns and drugs, as “detrimental to society”.

The website is part of the Dark Net, which can only be accessed using specialist software. It encrypts data sent and received from sites to provide anonymity.

The man accused of running the site, Ross William Ulbricht, 29, was arrested on October 1 and charged in New York with crimes including plotting the murders of two people.

Mr Boulton said: “Silk Road and websites like it are immoral because they are selling stuff I would not like to see in our larger society. I would like to see them disabled but I cannot see a feasible, practical way that it is possible.

“The people who run these sites need to realise what they are doing is so antisocial that it is detrimental to society as a whole.”

Asked about drug legislation, he said: “We should be educating people to deal with these things because they are things that exist in the real world and we cannot protect all of our children from them.

“The best we can do is teach them to perhaps not to swim in those dangerous waters.”

Alon Boulton was a physics student at the Royal Holloway, University of London, and was previously a pupil at Woodstock’s Marlborough School.

He was a keen drummer and, during a gap year before university, travelled around India and volunteered in Tanzania. He also spent about nine weeks in 2012 cycling from his home to Istanbul, visiting some 14 countries on the way.

His father, who is a gardening consultant, said: “He was a very typical young man, he was curious about the world and its politics and he did express concern for the world at large and the various injustices.

“We miss him on a daily basis – he is always in our thoughts. It would be foolish to pretend he has not cast a shadow over everything.”

An inquest on Thursday heard that Alon had told his brother, Tomer, 19, that he had bought Fentanyl on Silk Road – 3.87mg of the drug was found in his blood.

The coroner heard that, after taking the drug on May 22, Alon was found in his brother’s bedroom. His parents called 999 and he was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, but he was pronounced dead at 12.33am.

The inquest heard he had a history of drug use since 2006 and that he suffered from “low mood” and found the exam period stressful. In a statement, his mother Naomi had said what he was doing “was not with their blessing”.

Deputy coroner Alison Thompson said: “It is a tragic death of a young man who had obviously not realised the dangers, even though he had not taken the drug technically in overdose.”

Wendy Dawson, chief executive of the Ley Community, which helps people tackle drink and drugs problems, said: “We are seeing an increase increase in the number of people coming to us after having bought drugs off the internet.

“They are coming with far less streetwise knowledge. Some people buy drugs without asking what they are.”

  • Fentanyl is a painkiller which is roughly 100 times more potent than morphine.

When prescribed by a doctor, it is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. It is used by cancer patients.

It is a controlled drug and there are legal limits on how much of it can be taken abroad.

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