People in Ireland ‘died suddenly’ after allegedly buying fatal substance from Canadian

Criminal charges unlikely against Canadian chef Kenneth Law as substance sold not banned in Ireland

The alleged sale of fatal poison to people in Ireland by a man suspected of aiding others to take their own lives is unlikely to result in criminal charges in the Republic. Garda sources have confirmed the accused man, Canadian chef Kenneth Law (57), sold the chemical substance to more than 10 people in Ireland.

A small number of those, believed to be fewer than five, have since died suddenly. However, it is not yet known if their deaths resulted from consuming the substance they bought from the Canadian. The Irish Times is not naming the substance, though it is not illegal in the Republic. It has a number of legitimate uses, including in industries.

Garda sources said the inquests into the deaths of those people who died in Ireland after buying the substance would determine what role, if any, the poison had in their deaths. In at least one case, the inquest process is well-advanced. In the other cases, postmortems have been carried out and the results of toxicology and other tests are expected to shed light on precisely how their deaths were brought about.

The Canadian authorities several months ago supplied details to the Garda about people in Ireland who had allegedly bought the substance from sites purportedly linked to Mr Law. Gardaí performed welfare checks on those people and determined a number had died suddenly.


However, in reply to queries, Garda Headquarters said the force had “not yet identified any direct link” between the sudden deaths and the tip-off from the Canadians about the substance Mr Law was allegedly selling. “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,” the reply added.

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Assisting or abetting a person to end their own life is illegal in the Republic, with a maximum prison sentence of up to 14 years on conviction. However, Garda sources said it would be very difficult to prove a person selling a legal substance, with legitimate uses, was intent on assisting the buyer to end their own life.

Furthermore, because Mr Law already faces 14 counts of counselling or aiding suicide in Ontario, the possibility he would be put on trial for deaths outside Canada was remote. The authorities in Britain are investigating 88 deaths allegedly linked to him and the substance he was selling online.

Mr Law is a former aerospace engineer who has worked as a chef in recent years. His name was first publicly linked to the websites selling the poisonous substance during an investigation by the Times newspaper in London earlier this year. He spoke to an undercover reporter, who he believed was a customer, and claimed he was not aiding people to die. Instead he was merely selling a substance, he said.

However, he also claimed his mother was so ill in her final years that she was bedridden and could only be fed through a tube. According to the Times, having seen her in that condition for so long, he wanted to offer “some avenue of escape” to others in the same situation.

Mr Law was first arrested by the authorities in Canada in May as part of an investigation into two deaths there. The scope of the investigation soon widened. While he now faces charges in relation to 14 alleged assisted suicides in Canada, it is suspected he sold the substance to as many as 1,200 people in 40 countries, including Ireland.

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Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times