Monday, November 5, 2018

Queen's University poisoning court proceedings continue

He survived an attempted poisoning by his colleague in the chemistry lab at Queen’s University, now he waits, unsure if or when he’ll develop cancer as a result of his exposure to a dangerous chemical compound. 
The victim, a married father of two who, at the time of the attack, was a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s, knows all about N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, the poison slipped into his food and drink in January. It’s a compound used to manifest cancer in lab rats that, in sufficient doses, can be deadly to humans. He lived through the agonizing nights of pain and vomiting, but his long-term fate remains clouded in doubt. 
“The tests have not detected cancer, but that doesn’t mean I’m out of harm’s way,” the victim, who asked not to be identified publicly, told a Kingston court on Friday. “The long-term psychological fear is singularly cruel.” 
The victim stood just a few feet from the man who admitted poisoning him and described the devastating fear and uncertainty he has suffered over the past 10 months. He said he recently developed lumps in his chest and is still awaiting new test results. Meanwhile, he can’t bear to tell his parents in China what has happened and he feels estranged from his old friends and his work in the lab.
If my labmate tried to poison me during grad school, I'd have a pretty hard time getting back to my research as well... 


  1. Perhaps Mr. Wang can send his résumé to Mr. Putin.

  2. 4-7 years, and they're only charging aggravated assault. It's goddamn attempted murder.

  3. there were previous successful assassinations with Me2NNO, in pure form it has only faint odor and taste: it is likely that whatever the incompetent poisoner used (which alerted the victim by its nasty bitter solvent-like taste) was already partly decomposed or contaminated with degradation products.

    Also, I don't think a large dose of nitrosamine is likely to cause high risk of cancer - chronic lower-level exposure would be worse - but it is a potent mutagen and a liver toxin. I would watch for elevated liver enzymes in blood, and chromosomal defects.

    1. One of the true crime shows had someone try to poison his (neighbor's?) family with it in lemonade. A lot of the same long-term cancer fears came up with the survivors of that attempt.

      If it had been a bomb or a gun instead of poison, would it be some form of assault? Is that all the prosecutors think they can get a conviction or a plea for?

    2. From the perspective of someone with no background in criminal law, I would think if it had been a bomb or a gun he would have at least been charged with "assault with a deadly weapon". There is more than enough precedent to establish that guns and bombs are "deadly weapons", and I doubt it would have been easy to argue otherwise. On the other hand, I am not sure you could say the same for NMDA or other toxic substances that do not necessitate death as a gun or bomb might. I understand there is at least one case where HIV-infected bodily fluid was evidence for "assault with a deadly weapon", however I think in this case aggravated assault, and administering a noxious substance to endanger life are very fitting charges.


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