London police are investigating the death of Gordon Ramsay's head chef, who has been killed in a fall from a block of flats he was apparently burgling.

David Dempsey, 31, who was described by Ramsay as ‘one of the most gifted Scottish chefs to ever work in my kitchen’ died at the weekend after falling from a second-storey window into a basement, after breaking into the block of flats in London.

The death came only weeks after Dempsey had moved to London from Glasgow – where he inspired and ran Ramsay’s Amaryllis restaurant, earning Glasgow’s only Michelin star – to be head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the renowned chef’s flagship venue in Chelsea.

Ramsay said, ‘David was not only a brilliant protégé but also a friend. He had remarkable grounding and great skills, but also real vision, all of which combined to make him a natural leader and a great chef.’

Police say they were called to a suspected burglary at Elm Park Gardens, off the King’s Road in Chelsea, around 11pm on 4 May. They say Dempsey had climbed scaffolding and broken into a flat, where he had been challenged by the occupant.

A police spokesman said, ‘He then broke out of the ground floor, made his way along a number of window ledges and forced a communal entrance. He ran up a flight of stairs, smashed a window, ran up another flight of stairs to the second floor, climbed out, and fell from there into the basement of the flats.’

The spokesman added police were awaiting toxicology tests ‘which may make the course of our enquiries clearer.’

Gordon Ramsay said he is devastated by the loss of a colleague and a friend. ‘His loss will be felt deeply by all of us who worked with him over the past years and we extend our sincerest compassion to his family.’

Written by Adam Lechmere9 May 2003