Darius Campbell Danesh died of accidental inhalation of chloroethane

<span>Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA</span>
Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

The former Pop Idol contestant Darius Campbell Danesh died as a result of inhalation of chloroethane, a medical examiner has ruled.

The singer and actor was found dead in his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota, on 11 August.

An autopsy carried out by the Southern Minnesota regional medical examiner’s office found “toxic effects of chloroethane” as well as “suffocation” as contributing factors.

His death was also ruled an accident by the examiner.

Campbell Danesh’s family said he had been suffering from chronic pain at the time of his death, following a car accident in 2010 in Spain that left him with a broken neck.

“The results of medical examinations have confirmed that Darius’s death was an accident caused by chloroethane, which is used to treat pain and that tragically lead to respiratory arrest,” a statement read.

“Darius was suffering from chronic neck pain following a car accident in 2010.

“We would like to thank everyone for their love and kindness, and ask that the family’s privacy is maintained during this difficult time.”

Chloroethane, also known as ethyl chloride, is used as a topical anaesthetic for injections and minor surgery, and can also be found in other pharmaceuticals, petrol additives, plastics and dyes.

It has also been used as a recreational drug, with brief inhalations causing confusion, dizziness and incoordination.

Campbell Danesh was born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and an Iranian father. He made his first bid for fame in ITV’s talent show Popstars in 2001, with a theatrical rendition of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time.

A year later, he appeared on the inaugural Pop Idol, coming third behind Will Young and Gareth Gates in a final that was watched by more than 13 million people.

Following the show, Campbell Danesh turned down a record deal from judge Simon Cowell to work with producer Steve Lillywhite, who collaborated with him on his single Colourblind. The song reached No 1 in the UK, while his album Dive In reached the top 10.

In the following years, Campbell Danesh released four more top 10 singles, before forging a successful stage career.

In 2003, he also wrote a book about his time in the music industry called Sink or Swim, which became a Sunday Times bestseller.

Some years later, in 2010, he won an ITV competition called Popstar to Operastar, landing his first major opera role in a new production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena.

A family statement following his death read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh. Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiner’s office.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”