Today, instead of celebrating his eldest son’s 24th birthday, David Parfett will visit the crematorium in Amersham where Tom has been laid to rest. It has become something of a tradition in the two years since he bought a fatal dose of poison online from a website with alleged links to Kenneth Law, a former chef at a five-star hotel in Toronto turned suspected purveyor of lethal drugs, which are believed to have assisted the promising philosophy student’s bid to end his life.
Tom’s is one of 88 UK deaths that a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation last month linked to Law, who is now in custody in his native Canada, charged with 14 counts of counselling and aiding suicide. His suspected Canadian victims were, like Tom, aged between 16 and 36; vulnerable young people who turned to the internet in their lowest moments and, instead of finding help, were given the tools to make an irreversible decision, according to police. “It’s a complete waste,” Parfett says. “It is immoral for people of that age to be dragged into that kind of world.”
Law is believed to have sold more than 1,200 packages of poison (which we are not naming on ethical grounds) to people in 40 countries. These include the US, New Zealand, Austria and Italy, all of which are carrying out their own investigations. The NCA’s decision to investigate him has come following confirmation that the Canadian authorities will not include any overseas evidence in their prosecutions. The move is in some ways a success, Parfett believes. But while he considers it “really, really positive that, finally, we’re going to get the investigative resources on this that had been lacking over the last couple of years”, there is “also a lot of sadness… I think there were definitely missed opportunities to investigate sooner, which may have prevented some of those deaths”.