An aspiring barrister and England squash player who collapsed and died on his 22nd birthday died of natural causes, an inquest has heard.

Neil Desai, a former Tiffin School and Coombe Hill Infants pupil, died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (Sads) on his 22nd birthday, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard today.

Mr Desai, of Burghley Avenue, New Malden, went to study law at Nottingham University after gaining straight A grade GCSEs and A-levels.

The high-flying student had been voted sports personality of the year by his peers and was a talented cricketer and national squash player, ranked 269th in the world.

The court heard Mr Desai had flown to Malaga with his girlfriend Emma Hine, a fellow law student at Nottingham University, on September 4, 2008.

They dined out and, after returning to their hotel, the court heard Ms Hine was woken during the early hours of the morning by Neil crying out.

She initially thought he was having a nightmare but he collapsed and stopped breathing.

Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

A postmortem examination showed Mr Desai, who had already completed internships at four out of the five top rated law firms in London, had no alcohol or drugs in his system when he died.

Coroner Dr Paul Knapman recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

He said: “So, we have to explain how a seemingly fit man of 22 has suddenly died. All the evidence points to a sudden and unexpected event.”

Paying tribute to Mr Desai, his brother Samir, 25, said outside court that Neil’s death was a “freak tragedy”.

“His friends described him as an inspirational. He was a friendly, likeable guy who had ambitions to be a barrister,” he said.

“He was really friendly, really outgoing and would talk to anyone about anything.”

He said the family had now teamed up with the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (Tass) and charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (Cry), which sponsored Mr Desai, to investigate the cause of Sads and campaign for all sportsmen and women to be tested by their clubs for heart problems.

The family have also set up a foundation in Neil’s name to raise money for Cry and Street Child Africa.

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