Defendant acquitted of attempted murder in 'Breaking Bad' plot

Friday 7 November 2014

The defendant, represented by Peter Rowlands, was accused of attempting to murder her mother using a poison called abrin, which is said to be more potent than ricin.

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The case became known as the ‘Breaking Bad’ case, named after the American television series in which the anti-hero, Walter White, puts ricin in the coffee of one of his rivals in the drug trade.

In this case, the defendant was said to have put abrin in her mother’s coca cola. She also charged with acquiring the drug from a Florida drug dealer over the ‘dark web’, using encrypted messaging, and attempting to acquire additional quantities of the drug. These charges were the first charges ever to be brought under the Biological Weapons Act 1974. The defendant was acquitted of attempted murder following a two-week trial. On the 7 November, she was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for the abrin offences.

The case involved several different strands of evidence: expert evidence relating to the toxicity of abrin which had never before featured in a trial in the UK, prison telephone recordings, the contents of the defendant's computer and decrypted messages between the defendant and her supplier in the United States. The sentence, by the trial judge Mr Justice Singh, provided the first available sentencing authority for offences under the Biological Weapons Act 1974.

The case has been widely reported in the media including by the BBC, in The Guardian and in The Daily Mail.

Peter was instructed by Bernie Huber of Edwards Duthie.

Peter Rowlands is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team.

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