A woman attempted to kill her “controlling” mother in east London by poisoning her in a plot inspired by Breaking Bad, a court has heard.
Kuntal Patel, 37, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court accused of attempted murder after allegedly lacing Meena Patel’s Diet Coke with abrin in December.
Her mother survived the attack in part because the toxin was ingested rather than inhaled or injected, making it 1,000 times less powerful.
Abrin, which works similarly to the poison ricin, has no known antidote and can cause organ failure within hours as it destroys cells.
In the television series Breaking Bad, the main character Walt kills a woman by swapping her sweetener with ricin so she unknowingly drinks it in her tea.
Patel bought abrin from a US-based site on the “dark web” using the virtual currency bitcoins, the court heard on Monday.
She watched as her 60-year-old mother, who is a magistrate at Thames Magistrates’ Court, drank the poison at her home in Stratford in December but nothing happened.
The FBI launched an investigation into the alleged purchase and Kuntal, who works as a graphic designer for Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, was arrested in January, the jury was told.
Undeterred, she then allegedly attempt to obtain another, stronger sample of Abrin.
Jonathan Polnay, a lawyer for the prosecution, said that the Patels seemed a “highly respectable and happy family“ to the outside world but the veneer hid deep rifts, 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".
Mr Polnay added: “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 Kakad.
"Meena Patel was all of those things - manipulative, controlling and selfish. But she did not deserve to die."
He claimed that rather than bringing shame on the Hindu family by marrying without her mother’s consent, Patel started to plan the attempted murder.
“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,” Mr Polnay told jurors.
“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.”
Patel denies charges of attempted murder and acquiring a biological agent or toxin.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to acquire a biological agent or toxin in December.
The trial continues.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content