Actor Brad Renfro has been found dead at a Los Angeles apartment aged just 25.

The former child star had been tipped for the top after an impressive turn in the John Grisham adaptation The Client, with People magazine naming him in its 'Top 30 under 30' list in 1995.

However Renfro's career was plagued by brushes with the law, stemming from a 1997 arrest after which he was sentenced to two years on probation for trying to steal a yacht.

He was charged with cocaine and marijuana possession in 1998, avoiding jail through a plea bargain, while a 2001 arrest for under-age drinking resulted in his enrolment in an alcohol rehabilitation programme.

Renfro had impressed as a young version of the character played by Brad Pitt in the 1996 film Sleepers as well as playing opposite Sir Ian McKellen in the Stephen King adaptation Apt Pupil.

He was charged with driving under the influence and two counts of driving with a suspended licence in 2005 before being arrested for possessing heroin later that year.

The young actor entered a rehab programme in 2006 but was found last year to have violated his probation order for the heroin arrest by not enrolling in a long-term drug treatment programme.

His body was found at 09:00 Pacific time (17:00 GMT) on Monday, coroner's spokesman Ed Winter told the Reuters news agency.

"He was found unresponsive in a residence," a statement added. "Paramedics responded and he was pronounced dead."

A cause of death has not been established, with Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the Los Angeles county coroner, explaining that the actor had spent the night drinking with friends.

Mr Harvey told People magazine that it was possible that Renfro had overdosed on drugs, "considering his history", but added: "Right now all we have is the history of his drinking the previous night.

"All that we have is that he was last known to be alive during the morning hours and he was snoring."

Renfro had just completed production on The Informers, with Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton.

16/01/2008 10:34:23