Gardaí investigating the sale of ‘suicide kits’ posted to Irish buyers from Canada found three people had died, after officers visited the addresses of recipients.
The troubling revelations were made during an investigation by the Irish Daily Mail – which revealed that Canadian authorities got in touch with an Garda Síochána in April to inform them that a number of the kits had been sold to people in Ireland.
The report has sparked concern over the sale of Canadian ‘suicide kits’ to buyers in Ireland, at the same time the UK investigates at least 88 deaths linked to the kits. The National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK announced it had launched an investigation last week over the deaths.
Kenneth Law, from Ontario, was arrested earlier this month for selling 1,200 of the lethal ‘suicide kits’ which he says have killed “many” – including a teenager in the US.
In April, an investigation by the UK Times revealed that Law, a the former chef, had been selling the poison online to vulnerable and suicidal people, including youngsters, in order to enable them to kill themselves.
For two years, Law had sent the substance to people across the world from a post office near Toronto, the UK paper reported. The poison had been sold on a website disguised to fool authorities about its real purpose.
The Ontario man told an undercover reporter posing as a suicidal buyer how to take the substance to best ensure death, and also boasted that people had told him he was doing “God’s work.” Law claimed he had posted the product to “hundreds” of people throughout the UK.
This week, Canadian police charged Law with 12 more counts of aiding suicide for those as young as 16 after he was exposed during the investigation by The Times.
On Tuesday, The Irish Daily Mail revealed that Gardaí investigating the sale of Law’s suicide kits to buyers in Ireland found three people had died. In April, following the publication of the investigation by the Times, Canadian authorities got in touch with An Garda Síochána to inform them several of the kits had been sold to people in Ireland, the Mail reports.
The discoveries of the deaths were made when welfare checks were carried out at recipient addresses.
The Irish Daily Mail, in its front page story, said it was understood at least 12 packs had been bought in Ireland.
“When gardaí visited the addresses the kits had been posted to, they discovered three people had died,” the paper reported, adding that it is understood some of those who bought these kits in Ireland had life-limiting or terminal illnesses.
Law has already been charged with supplying the kits in countries across the world as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Law told the undercover reporter from the Times with regard to how many of the kits he had sold: “It will literally be in the hundreds. And they’ve all received it. We have had many, many customers in the UK who have purchased it.”
He also said “many, many, many, many” people have died during the phonecall with the reporter.
“People in the UK have died, people in the US have died, people in Canada have died, and other parts of the world,” he said.
While euthanasia is legal in Canada, assisting suicide is illegal in the UK, Ireland, and Canada, and is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 14 years.
The unnamed substance is legal to sell and does have other uses, and coroners have repeatedly raised concerns about its availability. The Times UK found that coroners and police had contacted Law about his use of the poision for suicide, but he continued to sell it.
22-year-old Tom Parfett took his own life after buying the lethal poison from Law’s website, the newspaper said.
His father, David Parfett, from Maidenhead in Berkshire, said: “I think he’s the man that effectively handed a loaded gun to my son. I believe my son would still be alive if it wasn’t for this man and his substance.”
Another customer of Law’s was 17-year-old American, Anthony Jones. He took the poison but ran to his mother shortly afterwards, saying “I want to live” – but died not long after, the investigation said.
Gript contacted An Garda Síochána over the selling of the substance in Ireland, and the three deaths.
They said in a statement: “Following information received from, and at the request of, the Canadian Authorities, An Garda Síochána has carried out a number of welfare checks in this jurisdiction.
“In a small number of cases An Garda Síochána has identified that the persons subject of the welfare check were deceased.
“In all of these cases An Garda Síochána is assisting the local Coroner with the preparation of an investigation file for a Coroner’s Inquest into the sudden death.”
An Garda Síochána said it has not yet identified “any direct link between the information received from the Canadian Authorities and any of these sudden deaths.”
As the numbers involved in this case are small, specific details have not being provided by the Gardaí to protect the privacy of the persons involved and their families.
In addition, Gardaí say the products identified by Canadian Authorities are not illegal in this jurisdiction and can be purchased for legitimate purposes.
They added that no criminal investigation has commenced into any incident at this time.