Father whose son killed himself after taking poison bought online says his life was 'valued at £40' by seller

A man whose 22-year-old son took his own life after buying poison from a Canadian seller has called for better regulation as it is still available.

David Parfett said his son Tom Parfett died in Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey after purchasing the lethal substance two years ago.

Mr Parfett said Tom bought it from a website that he found on a forum which is still in operation today.

"He [the seller] was charging the equivalent of around £50 for the poison, Mr Parfett added. "Probably making £40 profit. So, I think he valued my son's life at about the equivalent of £40."

Mr Parfett said the forum was "not at all hidden" and he wants it to be made tougher to find online.

"There are still people using this forum, using other suppliers to do exactly the same as my son. And yet we're two years later on, and there is no action to resolve this," he said.

"Anything that is ungoverned with people encouraging people to harm themselves needs to be stopped but a very simple action would be to make it an awful lot more difficult to find it.

"[Tom] literally ordered it like you would order anything online, it came within a few days, no one stopped it, no one at customs looked at it, there are no regulations applied as it entered this country."

The National Crime Agency has launched an investigation into the deaths of 88 people in the UK who bought products from Canada-based websites that were selling substances to assist with suicide.

The NCA has revealed it has identified 272 people in the UK who bought items from the websites in the two years up to April 2023.

Of those, 88 died.

The NCA said "at this early stage there are no confirmed links between the items purchased from the websites and cause of death in any of these cases".

Kenneth Law, 57, was arrested in May and charged in Ontario with two counts of counselling and aiding suicide.

Officers said they believed the Canadian national "distributed and marketed [a] substance online to target individuals at risk of self-harm".

Read more:
What we know about 'online poison seller' Kenneth Law

Mr Parfett welcomed the NCA investigation, calling it a "strong step forward".

But he added: "We need regulation, the poisons are obviously not well regulated. Tom was able to order a poison from abroad with no regulation that is a reportable substance in this country.

"So if he had bought it from this country, the supplier had to report it."

He added: "The Poisons Act that regulates that is 50 years old - it's pre-internet and therefore is not fit for purpose.

"Clearly, most people order things online these days and they don't go to a shop. Therefore, things like the need to provide identification are completely out of date."

The substance sold to Tom - which Sky News has chosen not to name - is available to the public for legitimate uses.

But it is also included in the 1972 Poisons Act as a reportable substance.

That means, while sellers don't need a licence, they do have to report suspicious transactions, whether they go through or not.

Months after Tom died, a Surrey coroner raised the issue with the health secretary.

The coroner wrote the substance is "freely available to be purchased from the internet in lethal quantities for delivery within the UK".

She added that "no protection is afforded to vulnerable people prior to them making such purchases", as she urgently called for action to "prevent future deaths".

A government spokesperson said: "Every suicide is a tragedy and has a devastating, enduring impact on families and communities.

"We're working hard to reduce the number of suicides and will publish a new national suicide prevention strategy later this year.

"There is already ongoing action across government to rapidly identify and combat emerging methods of suicide, with multiple interventions in place to reduce access and awareness. The Online Safety Bill will also tackle harmful material that encourages self-harm or suicide.

"We're investing £2.3bn extra a year into mental health services, which will help an additional two million people to access NHS-funded mental health support by 2024."

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.