A man who tried to buy deadly ricin poison from the Dark Web after being inspired by the TV series Breaking Bad has been jailed for eight years. Mohammed Ali, 31, was convicted at the Old Bailey of attempting to possess a chemical weapon following a trial in July. Ali, from Liverpool, struck a deal with a supplier in January to buy 500mg of powder - enough to kill 1,400 people.
He was unaware that his source was in fact an FBI agent. The trial heard the father-of-two was sent harmless powder hidden inside a toy car.
After opening the package, which had been treated with a marker substance, he was arrested at his home the following morning.
The court heard Ali, of Prescot Road, a computer programmer, first heard about ricin after watching the US crime drama Breaking Bad.
He told jurors he was just "curious" and wanted to test the boundaries of the Dark Web, and was unaware ricin was illegal. "I was interested in the Dark Web and ricin. I just wanted to know what the fuss was about," he said. Computer analysis showed Ali first began trawling the internet for information on poisons such as abrin, ricin and cyanide in October last year. The court heard he approached the undercover agent in January with a private message, saying: "Hi, would you be able to make me some ricin and send it to the UK?" In a series of encrypted chats, they discussed the price of a lethal dose, discounts for bulk orders and ricin's "shelf life", jurors were told. Test on a rodent At one point, Ali asked: "How do I test this ricin?" and received the instruction: "You must test it on a rodent."
Records showed that on February 4 - days before the delivery - he made a payment in Bitcoins, the online currency.
Around this time, Ali had made a to-do list on his computer which included the entries "paid ricin guy" and "get pet to murder", the court heard. He had also made a series of internet searches for chinchillas, animal rescue centres, rabbits and "pocket-sized pets".
The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said Ali's actions created a "real risk". He said: "Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow.
"I am afraid that because of the need for a deterrent sentence, the sentence will appear harsh to the defendant and his family."