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Eight years in jail for online bid to buy ricin.

Byline: Lauren Brown newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

ACOMPUTER geek from Liverpool was jailed yesterday jailed for eight years for trying to buy deadly ricin poison from the Dark Web after being inspired by the hit US television series Breaking Bad.

Software programmer Mohammed Ali, 31, was found guilty last month of trying to possess a chemical weapon between January 10 and February 12.

Sentencing Ali at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Saunders told him that having a chemical weapon was "much more serious that possessing a firearm".

He said: "It seems to me that this is the sort of case where a deterrent sentence has to be passed.

"Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow."

The judge commended law enforcement agencies in Britain and the US for ensuring that ricin - known as the perfect poison for leaving no trace - did not get into Ali's possession.

He told the court: "I am satisfied so that I am sure, that Mohammed Ali had no intention of disposing of the ricin immediately. He intended to keep it. That created a real risk that at some stage in the future he might decide to experiment with it or that it could fall into the wrong hands."

Ali, who was diagnosed with mild Asperger's or autistic traits, stood impassively in the dock as he was sentenced.

A woman in the public gallery who is believed to be a family member wailed loudly as he was sent down.

Earlier in mitigating, Joel Bennathan QC said: "Mr Ali has a large supportive family who care for him.

"They are distraught and appalled by the mess he has got into. When he is released he will be supervised and will be occupied in order to make a living and will be looked after by his family."

Under the username Weirdos 0000, Ali struck a deal with a supplier on the internet black market to buy 500mg of powder for $500 (PS320) - enough to kill 1,400 people.

Ali was unaware his source was in fact an FBI agent who tipped off police in England and substituted the consignment of ricin for harmless powder. In his defence, Ali told jurors that he was just "curious" and wanted to test the boundaries of the Dark Web, unaware that ricin was illegal.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 19, 2015
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