An Orpington schoolboy accidentally killed himself while trying to re-enact a Tudor hanging, an inquest heard yesterday (March 24).

Darrick Wood School pupil Paul Bagnall, 18, was looking for a costume for an upcoming school play in his parents’ loft in Dryland Avenue when the tragedy happened.

He was discovered by his mother Sandrine when she returned home at 4pm on January 7.

Paul, a straight-A student with a talent for rugby and karate, was wearing tights, a white ruffled shirt and a belt.

Mrs Bagnall, 44, said: "I thought it was actually a dummy hanging there and not Paul because it looked smaller than him.

"Then I realised there had been an accident.

"He had no problems, lots of friends and was looking forward to going to university. He was the sweetest, nicest boy.

"We think he had tried to stage a Tudor hanging. The combination of tights and a laminate floor could have caused him to slip."

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In her statement read out at the inquest at Croydon Coroner's Court, she said Paul had recently been to the Hampton Court archives and his banker father Nick had been telling him about Tudor rituals.

She said: "Nick told Paul that in Tudor times they used to tie prisoners up by their necks with chains.

"Paul had said he needed a costume to act in a play at a fancy dress party at the end of his school ski trip in February.

"We had a dressing-up box in the loft and Paul and his sister Lauren regularly used to dress up in the school holidays in different costumes and accessories on the spur of the moment."

Mrs Bagnall said she tried to get Paul down and called paramedics but he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.

The inquest heard the teenager had sat an exam earlier that day but was not being bullied or under any stress.

He had recently been offered a place at Southampton University to study mechanical engineering.

The cause of death was given as hanging.

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South London Coroner Dr Roy Palmer said there were no drugs or alcohol found in Paul's body when he died.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said: "I'm satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Paul was in the loft searching around in the dressing up box and looking at himself in the mirror when he somehow slipped and gave in to an untimely death.

"I'm so very sorry it happened and that you lost your son so tragically."

His father Nick, 57, added: "He was a great boy and much loved by everyone who knew him. He was a great son and brother to his sister - a wonderful boy who did not have a bad bone in his body.

"His teachers said he was a natural mathematician and used to help his friends out with their work.

"Despite being a bit clumsy, through determination he became a good rugby player and a black belt in karate.

"He was always smiling. Even when he was in a karate bout he would be beaming that's the kind of person he was. He will be missed by so many people."