Poison accused 'wished mother dead'
A graphic designer confessed that she hoped her mother "dies soon" a year before she poisoned her in a Breaking Bad-inspired murder plot, a court heard.
Lovestruck Kuntal Patel, 37, allegedly tried to kill magistrate Meena Patel by lacing her diet coke with the deadly toxin abrin after her mother "forbade" her to marry her boyfriend, Niraj Kakad.
Her mother, who sits on the bench at Thames Magistrates' Court, drank the poison last December, but survived.
Jurors heard that Patel duped her close friend Julie Wong into having the package containing the deadly poison delivered to her home in Streatham, south London.
She pretended it was a romantic gift of an expensive candle from Mr Kakad which she did not want her mother to discover.
Ms Wong told London's Southwark Crown Court that Patel was bullied and beaten by her mother, who was determined to break up her relationship.
In a series of increasingly desperate emails and texts, Patel confided in her friend about the "relentless" abuse and violence she suffered at her mother's hands.
In one message in August 2012 she said: "My life is so messed up right now, I actually wish I was dead or wish my mum died. I hate her so much."
The following month, on September 24, she messaged Ms Wong again about her mother, saying: "She got what she wanted, ruining my life. She should be happy. She blatantly said to me 'I don't care if you're unhappy because I made the right decision'.
"She keeps bringing it up, I don't. She just sits on the sofa crying, I hope she dies soon."
Shocked, Ms Wong replied: "Oh f*** Kuntal, you didn't just say that?"
Patel shot back: "What, it is true. I'm sorry, I won't talk about it. It's killing me. I really miss Niraj and we would have been really happy together."
Peter Rowlands, defending, said Patel's mother inflicted a "war of abuse and physical violence" on her daughter, who lost weight and became suicidal under the strain.
Patel, who worked as a graphic designer for Barclays Bank, complained that her mother banned her from seeing her boyfriend and beat her.
In an email in July 2012 she confided in an email to Ms Wong that her mother beat her.
She wrote: "I can't hit her back. My life is so worthless I just sit and take it because I deserve it and my life is not going to change at all.
"She just sits and shouts at me like a bulldog. No reason or logic apart from being a psycho."
Ms Wong said Patel sent her photographs of her bruised arm after her mother hit her.
She told jurors that Patel had been hit by her mother "a few times", adding: "There was one time she sent me a picture message. It was of bruising on her arm. She said it was caused by her mother."
Ms Wong said her close friend became increasingly depressed and her weight plummeted in the two years before the alleged poisoning.
She encouraged her friend to break free of her mother's stranglehold, and said she had no suspicions when she asked her to accept a package for her at her home last November.
Patel initially told her the package was a watch which Mr Kakad was posting to her from America.
But when the black A3-sized package arrived at Ms Wong's neighbour's house on December 10 last year, Patel changed her story and said it was an expensive candle.
Ms Wong said: "She told me it was a candle given to her from Niraj. It was a memory for her. It was a very expensive candle.
"They were at a hotel one time, she liked this candle, he remembered it and bought her one."
Mr Rowlands, defending, told jurors that Patel had an extremely strained relationship with her mother, who "treated her like a child" and gave her curfews.
The day before the package arrived she had told Ms Wong she was desperately unhappy and considering "killing herself", jurors heard.
Patel, of Plaistow, east London, denies trying to murder her mother and acquiring a biological agent or toxin. She has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to acquire a biological agent or toxin last December.
Patel's best friend of 20 years Darcia Babb, who is a detective constable attached to the Met's Operation Trident squad, said her friend suffered "mental torment".
Ms Babb swapped a string of messages with her in which she urged her to move away from her mother and give her relationship with Mr Kakad a proper go.
But Patel branded her mother a "psycho" and said she feared she would kill herself if she left.
In one message Patel said: "You don't know what she's capable of. She is a psycho. She will go all out to ruin me or anyone associated with me. I'm scared now my mum will kill herself."
She later texted her friend complaining about her mother, writing: "I told her I still love him and she said over her dead body."
Ms Babb desperately urged her friend to pluck up the courage to leave. She told her in a message: "Make a decision, are you going to stay or leave? I fear she will kill you."
Patel replied: "She is being so irrational and crazy, she might kill herself."
Mr Rowlands said things came to a violent head in August last year, when Ms Patel hit her "lowest ebb".
He told jurors: "Last August all hell broke loose, a terrible, abusive row. Her mum took away her passport to try to stop her leaving."
The jury heard that the delivery of the deadly abrin toxin sparked terror raids across London.
The FBI had tracked the sale to London, and alerted British counter terrorism police.
Detectives and specialist officers trained in dealing with biological and nuclear substances searched Patel's east London home on January 26 this year.
They also raided her friend Ms Wong's home in Streatham, south London, and Ms Wong's neighbour James Sutcliffe, who entirely innocently took delivery of the package.
Detective Constable Simon Thomas said: "Due to the nature of the substances we were seeking, we had CBRN officers trained for dealing with chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear material.
"They wore protective equipment."
He said the main concern of the counter terrorism officers was if there was "any immediate threat from the substance or people in the address".
He said the home was immediately evacuated and cleared to make sure it was "sterile".
Patel was quizzed by officers about the package she received which allegedly contained the poison and arrested her initially on suspicion of keeping abrin without permission.