Everything Old Is New Again

Mr Bob Egle died in June 1971.

Mr Jethro Batt became very ill in October 1971

Mr Fred Biggs died in November 1971.

The men all had a number of similarities. They had gastrointestinal symptoms similar to food poisoning. They had hair loss. Hallucinations.

They also worked at the same place. Hadlands, a photographic instruments company in Bovingdon, Hertfordshine, England, just a little north of London.

At first, it was assumed to be some sort of bacterial or viral outbreak. but one guy who worked there, a newish employee called Graham Young, had made a few interesting remarks. In particular, after the company doctor had ruled out heavy metal poisoning at a meeting, he asked “What about thallium?”

As an aside, you may remember thallium getting a mention in a blog of a couple of weeks ago, where I conclusively prove that biscuits are better than kale. Well, like bad penny, it has turned up again.

The aforementioned Mr Young, it turns out, was poisoning the tea of his workmates with thallium. And antimony for good measure.

Why? Well, Mr Young was keen on poisoning people to see what happened, and he’d been unable to indulge this hobby for the previous decade as he’d been locked up at an institution after poisoning his sister, father and a school friend. They survived. HisĀ stepmother also died, and he later admitted to having poisoned her, but was never charged, it was a bit irrelevant by then as he had a life sentence anyway.

Graham Young died in prison in 1990.
As in a previous post about the Kremlin’s prediction for poisoning its opponents via their tea, I do consider this to be an absolutely cowardly and appalling way of committing murder – not that there’s a good way. And even if you’re not a Russian opposition figure, there is some risk.

Most years someone gets caught killing off another person via their tea, Mostly with ethylene glycol, which you can get at any automotive supplier.

In a rare burst of beverage solidarity, I’ll point out that it’s often coffee, wine, spirits, even a smoothie. Just as unacceptable.

One way to look at this, though, is that it is a measure of how relaxing a cup of tea is. It’s a time when we have our guard down. And that’s something that, despite is leading to a fatal poisoning on very rare occasions, is generally a good thing on every other occasion.


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