Canadian ‘poison killer’ Kenneth Law to head straight to trial

Canadian 'poison killer' Kenneth Law to head straight to trial
Kenneth Law accused of selling poisonsPEEL REGIONAL POLICE

The case of a Canadian man accused of supplying a poisonous chemical to people who died by suicide will head straight to trial, an Ontario court has decided.

Prosecutors have also upgraded the charges against Kenneth Law from second-degree to first-degree murder.

Mr Law may have sent more than 1,200 parcels containing lethal substances to around 40 countries, including the UK.

He made his latest court appearance on Thursday.

Mr Law, a 57-year-old former chef from Toronto, is facing a total of 14 first-degree murder charges, as well as 14 counts of aiding and counselling suicide, for a total of 28 charges.

His lawyer, Matthew Gourlay, has said that Mr Law intends to plead not guilty.

All of the charges are linked to deaths of people from across Ontario aged 16 to 36. Police have said that more than one victim is under the age of 18.

At an earlier court appearance this week, prosecutors confirmed to Mr Law that his case will proceed by direct indictment, bypassing a preliminary inquiry that typically assesses whether evidence against a defendant is strong enough to head to trial.

Mr Law, who has been in police custody since his arrest last May, is also the subject of probes by police agencies in other parts of Canada, as well as other countries.

British detectives say they have linked him to 90 deaths in the UK. Mr Law is only facing charges in the Canadian province of Ontario.

He was initially charged with manslaughter, but prosecutors have since upgraded charges against him twice, marking an escalation in his case.

When upgrading his charges to second-degree murder in December, officers with York Regional Police said it was because new evidence has come to light that supports the more serious charge.

“We are constantly assessing evidence,” inspector Simon James told reporters.

Under Canadian law, first-degree murder is defined as being the deliberate and planned killing of another person.

Canadian detectives allege Mr Law ran a number of websites offering equipment and substances to help people end their lives.

In the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in London has accused him of sending packages to 272 people.

The agency, which is investigating if any criminal offenses were committed, said 90 of those recipients later died, though they could not confirm that a toxic substance was the direct cause of each death.

If convicted, Mr Law faces imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

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By David Ryckman