A SCHOOLBOY, who said he sniffed thinners to help him forget his unhappiness, was found drowned at Tai Po, an inquest was told yesterday. Coroner Warner Banks heard that the 12-year-old boy may have been under the influence of thinners when he fell into the sea. A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure in the case of Chiu Kin-wai, a primary six pupil, who died before arriving at Tai Po Jockey Club Clinic at 8 pm on July 15 last year. Chan Tze-fai, a welder, told the court that he saw Chiu sitting on a railing at the waterfront on Fu Shin Road, Tai Po, at 4.30 pm that day. He was sniffing from a can of thinners. Later, two fishermen told Mr Chan that a body had been seen in the sea. The description of the body fitted that of the boy he had seen earlier. Mr Chan said it was common to see children sniffing solvents. An autopsy revealed that Chiu's blood contained the chemical acetone, which indicated a possible inhalation of the solvent. Student guidance officer Lui Siu Kit-yee said Chiu was referred to her by a teacher at the school in January last year after a classmate reported seeing Chiu inhaling solvent in a park. Chiu told Mrs Lui that he was lonely and unhappy. His father ran a noodle factory in Western District and seldom returned to their Tai Po home. As the family faced financial problems, his mother sometimes went to the factory to help. He said only his elder sister cared about him, but she was busy studying. Chiu told Mrs Lui he picked up the sniffing habit from some secondary pupils. Sniffing thinners, he said, helped him forget his unhappiness. He did it seven or eight times in December 1992, he said. Mrs Lui described Chiu's academic results as satisfactory. She said Chiu gave the impression he had given up the habit after the interviews, and appeared happy.