Breaking Bad ‘inspired’ murder bid, court told

A LOVESTRUCK graphic designer tried to kill her magistrate mother by lacing her Diet Coke with lethal poison in a murder plot inspired by TV series Breaking Bad, a court has heard.

The woman's murder bid was inspired by TV drama Breaking Bad, the court heard. Picture: Complimentary
The woman's murder bid was inspired by TV drama Breaking Bad, the court heard. Picture: Complimentary

Kuntal Patel, 37, allegedly slipped her “controlling and selfish” mother Meena the deadly poison Abrin after she “forbade” her to marry her boyfriend.

Patel bought the poison, which is “much more poisonous” than Ricin, from a site on the dark web based in the US using the virtual currency bitcoins.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

And she watched as her mother Meena, 60, who sits on the bench at Thames Magistrates’ Court, drank the substance at her home in Stratford, East London last December, but survived.

The FBI in America launched an investigation and Kuntal, who works as a graphic designer for Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, was arrested this January, jurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said that “to the outside world, the Patels must have seemed a highly respectable and happy family”. But beneath this veneer of a happy and successful Hindu family, lay a tale of discord, bullying and abuse.

He warned jurors the evidence “is so extreme that if they were the plot of a Hollywood or Bollywood film, you would say they are far fetched’.

He went on: “The evidence will show that, in private, Meena Patel - the magistrate who worked in domestic violence and race relations - was not a nice woman at all.

“She would regularly use foul and abusive language, including highly racist language. She would, on occasions, be violent.

“She was highly manipulative and controlling - she would seek to control every aspect of her daughters’ lives. And worst of all, she forbade Kuntal from marrying the man she loved - Niraj Patel.

“Meena Patel was all of those things - manipulative, controlling and selfish. But she did not deserve to die.”

He said that Meena concocted her murder plot so she could marry the man she loved.

He told jurors: “When Meena forbade Kuntal from marrying Niraj, rather than bringing shame on the family by trying to marry without her consent, - something which Meena would have done her best to sabotage - Kuntal set out in a calculated and pre-meditated fashion to murder her own mother.

“Inspired, in part, by the US television series Breaking Bad, she acquired a deadly toxin called Abrin, a close relation to Ricin, which you may have heard of. She acquired it over the ‘dark web’ from a vendor in the USA.

“She paid using bitcoins, a virtual, electronic currency, and used layer upon layer of encryption to try to cover her tracks.

“The deadly toxin arrived from the United States concealed in a wax candle. Kuntal secretly poured the Abrin into her mother’s Diet Coke and watched her drink it - expecting her to die. But nothing happened.”

He said the poison is 1,000 time less toxic if swallowed rather than inhaled or injected, and so the magistrate survived.

But undeterred, Patel set about getting hold of another, stronger sample of Abrin.

Appearing in the dock dressed all in black, Patel denies trying to murder her mother and acquiring a biological agent or toxin. She has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to acquire a biological agent or toxin last December.

Breaking Bad follows the story of chemistry teacher Walter White, who turns to cooking crystal meth with a former student after being diagnosed with cancer.