The poison plot that sparked major counter terrorism raid
Diplomat’s innocent son was caught up in terror raids after unknowingly signing for deadly poison sent through the post
The Kuntal Patel poison case sparked a major counter-terrorism operation during which the innocent son of a British diplomat was arrested.
James Sutcliffe, 19, was detained under terrorism laws after he innocently signed for a package that had been sent to his neighbour.
Unbeknown to him or his neighbour, the package had contained the deadly poison Abrin, which Patel had bought from a supplier in America.
Metropolitan Police were tipped off by the FBI that the poison had been sent to the UK after arresting the supplier, Jesse Korff in the US.
But this was in January and the parcel had been sent the previous month so police had no idea what they were dealing with or where the poison may be.
Patel had arranged with Korff to send the poison, which was hidden inside a candle, to her friend Julie Wong in Streatham, south east London.
She had told Miss Wong it was a present from her boyfriend and she did not want her mother to know.
However, when the deliveryman turned up, no one was at home and Mr Sutcliffe, being a good neighbour, agreed to sign for it before passing it on to Miss Wong later. Miss Wong also had no idea what the parcel truly contained.
Just over a month later his home, and that of the Wongs, was raided detectives and specialist officers trained in dealing with biological and nuclear substances.
Mr Sutcliffe, , whose father Nicholas is a first secretary to the Foreign Office, was arrested but released after several hours questioning and later told no further action would be taken.
The trail quickly moved to east London and Kuntal Patel as the case turned from a feared terrorism attack to a domestic murder plot.
Detective Constable Simon Thomas told the court: “Due to the nature of the substances we were seeking, we had CBRN officers trained for dealing with chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear material.”
He said the main concern of the counter terrorism officers was if there was “any immediate threat from the substance or people in the address”.
Kuntal Patel jailed over ‘dark web’ poison purchase
7 November 2014
A woman acquitted of trying to poison her mother in a Breaking Bad-inspired plot has been jailed for three years for acquiring a toxin.
Kuntal Patel, 37, was accused of trying to murder her magistrate mother Meena Patel by putting abrin in her drink.
The court heard she had been angry with her mother, who “forbade” her from marrying her US-based boyfriend.
Patel, of Plaistow, east London, is the first person to be sentenced under the Biological Weapons Act 1974.
The court heard Mrs Patel, who sits on the bench at Thames Magistrates’ Court, was “hell-bent” on breaking up her daughter’s relationship, and had locked her daughter in their home, bullying her in a bid to get her to stop seeing Niraj Kakad.
They got engaged on Thanksgiving in November 2012 but their relationship could not withstand the pressure, and they broke up.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Patel bought the poison via a US site on the “dark web” for £950.
She had talked about needing a “tasteless” and deadly toxin to get her mother “out of the way” but said the comments were part of a fantasy world where she imagined herself as Walter White – a character in the US series Breaking Bad – or a “Mexican drug warlord”.
In court she said she meant to kill herself with the poison which was allegedly hidden in a red wax candle and delivered to London but Patel, a Barclays Bank graphic designer, said she “panicked” when she picked the package up and threw it away.
During sentencing, Judge Mr Justice Singh said he believed she had been forced to endure “a prolonged period of severe stress” in the two years leading up to the offences, which took place last December and January.
He said Patel had been torn between her devotion to her mother and family and her desire to find happiness with her fiancée.
“Ultimately you could see no way out and became increasingly depressed and isolated, contemplating killing your mother and yourself,”