Liverpool

Mohammed Ali: Breaking Bad ricin plotter's appeal turned down

Breaking Bad Image copyright AP
Image caption Mohammed Ali first heard about ricin on the US crime drama Breaking Bad

A man who tried to buy deadly ricin poison from the Dark Web after being inspired by the TV series Breaking Bad has had an appeal to overturn his conviction turned down.

Mohammed Ali, 31, was jailed for eight years for attempting to possess the chemical in July last year.

Ali, from Liverpool, struck a deal to buy 500mg of powder - enough to kill 1,400 people.

Court of Appeal judges ruled the severity of his sentence was justified.

During his trial at the Old Bailey, jurors heard how Ali had unwittingly made contact with an under cover FBI agent on the Dark Web.

The father-of-two was then sent harmless powder hidden inside a toy car, before being arrested at his home.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Ali was sent what he thought was ricin concealed inside the battery compartment of a toy car

The court heard Ali, of Prescot Road, a computer programmer, first heard about ricin after watching the US crime drama Breaking Bad, and had planned to test the substance on a rodent.

His case was brought to the Court of Appeal as he challenged both his conviction and the length of his sentence.

His QC, Joel Bennathan, challenged the fairness of his trial, focusing on a "safety interview" conducted outside Ali's home immediately after his arrest, in the absence of a solicitor.

That was so officers could check that there were no other harmful substances or plots of which they were unaware.

'Deterrent sentence'

But Mr Bennathan argued that evidence from this interview should have been excluded from Ali's trial.

Ali, who was diagnosed with mild Asperger's syndrome or autistic traits, insisted he had meant no harm and had merely carried out an experiment to see if he could buy ricin.

However, Lord Justice Treacy refused permission to appeal against the conviction.

"We are wholly unpersuaded that the judge was wrong in concluding that the evidence could be admitted without causing unfairness," he ruled.

The judge went on to dismiss Ali's sentence challenge, holding that his punishment was "severe but justifiable".

He said Ali had done everything he could to obtain what he thought was ricin, and his crime demanded a strong deterrent sentence.

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