Poison seller who promoted death kits on suicide forums tracked down by BBC

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Mar 1, 2024 at 12:22 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

A man whose job supplying poison is thought to be linked to at least 130 deaths in the UK has been identified by the BBC. Leonid Zakutenko, a Ukrainian national, told undercover reporters that he had been sending five parcels a week to the UK—each containing quantities of substances that can be fatal if ingested.

Zakutenko had been advertising his services on a website promoting suicide. Not long ago, in November 2023, a pro-suicide website was finally blocked by broadband providers after being linked to 50 deaths. While it’s unclear whether or not Zakutenko was associated with the same site, it’s evident that this is a growing issue in the UK.

When questioned by the BBC about these allegations in Kyiv, the Ukranian man denied the claims. However, internal investigations strongly suggest that he has been running these operations for years.

The Kite family, who tragically lost twin sisters Linda and Sarah in London in 2023 after they were supplied with one of Zakutenko’s “death kits,” described the perpetrator as a “contemptible and evil human being.”

Scientist Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, an expert in vascular pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London, analysed the blood in samples of people who had died in connection to this scheme and found that out of 187 tests, 71 per cent showed high traces of the chemical, indicating that at least 133 people may have died as a result of ingesting it.

On 2 February 2024, it was decided that the case of a Canadian man also accused of supplying a poisonous chemical to people who died by suicide would go straight to trial. Kenneth Law faces a total of 28 charges, all linked to the deaths of people from across Ontario aged 16 to 36. The BBC discovered that Zakutenko was even using the same forum as Law.

Disturbing websites encouraging people to kill themselves have been growing in popularity and reach over the past few years. Social media platforms such as TikTok have tried to make changes to their algorithm to prevent young users from being flooded with videos glorifying suicide, however, the internet continues to find a way to spread insidious messages of hate and destruction.

After 16-year-old Nasca killed himself, his parents searched his social media accounts to try and find answers. When the teenager’s mother opened his TikTok page, she found hundreds of videos linked to depression, hopelessness, and death.

While broadband providers are consistently working on flushing out these forums and websites, it’s clear that much more needs to be done in order to prevent these horrendous tragedies from occurring.

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