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Schoolgirl blogger poisons mother in homage to killer
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo
The Teacup Poisoner, Graham Young, was the teenager's idol
A HIGH-SCHOOL girl has been arrested for gradually poisoning her mother to the brink of death and keeping a blog of her progress -- all done as a grim homage to a British serial killer whom she idolised.
Over the summer the 16-year-old student is alleged to have laced her mother's food with increasing doses of thallium, a potent rat poison. Her mother is now critically ill and in a coma.
The girl, who is from rural Shizuoka, central Japan, was apparently inspired by Graham Young, the notorious Teacup Poisoner of Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, who, in 1962, aged 14, slowly killed his stepmother with what was thought to be the same lethal substance. Asked by the compilers of her school yearbook to identify the historical figure she admired the most, she named Young.
In further emulation of her deranged hero, who poisoned numerous family members and work colleagues and died in Parkhurst after nine years in Broadmoor, the Japanese girl recorded her mother's horrific daily sufferings in a matter-of-fact internet diary.
The girl's blog has been removed from the internet but extracts apparently copied from it survive on other Japanese websites.
"It's a bright, sunny day today, and I administered a delivery of acetic thallium," the girl wrote in August. "The man in the pharmacy didn't realise he had sold me such a powerful drug."
Other entries attempt to match the meticulously scientific style of Young's macabre diary, where he transcribed in detail the effects of each poison he administered and weighed up whether his subjects should live or die in excruciating pain.
The girl refers directly to Young's diary in her blog, and is said to have been heavily influenced by a 1995 film, The Young Poisoner's Handbook, which was dubbed into Japanese and dramatises Young's macabre fascinations with lethal substances.
Two weeks before her 47-year-old mother slipped into a coma, the girl wrote: "Today mother has deteriorated. She has been complaining of a worsening pain in her leg and has now become immobile."
Several days later, her blog mentioned rashes on the victim's body and problems with her breathing. The girl goes on to report her mother's hallucinations and other agonies, before criticising her inadequate life insurance policy.
Both the girl and Young tested poisons on living things. Young treated his co-workers as human guinea-pigs, while the Shizuoka girl is believed to have relied on animals. A severed cat's head is understood to have been discovered in her room along with a stash of thallium. "Up until now I have killed various creatures," her blog reports, before describing the mother's poisoning. "It was fun to play with them, but all the same rather tiring. It took rather a long time to dispose of the lumps of dead flesh."
The blog consistently uses the word boku, the Japanese word for "I", but a form used only by men. Police sources believe this may point to the girl's close identification with Young.
Like Young, the Shizuoka girl appears to have had little problem buying the thallium from local stores and on the internet. "I even received sympathy from my teachers when I tearfully talked about my sick mother," says her blog. "I guess people are cheated more easily than expected."
She denies attempted murder, but told police that her mother was suffering from thallium poisoning. Over the summer she is believed to have taken thallium herself, just as Young did, in an attempt to allay suspicion. The police were alerted to the girl's alleged activities by her brother.
WEB DIARY OF A HIGH SCHOOL GIRL
"Let me introduce a book: Graham Young's diary on killing with poison. The autobiography of a man I respect. He murdered someone at the age of 14."
"To kill a living creature. The moment of sticking a knife into something. The warmth of the blood. The little sigh. It is all a comfort to me."
"My mother will go to hospital tomorrow and nobody has yet found out what the cause is. To my regret, she is not covered by good insurance, so life will be a little difficult."
"I took a photo of her today as I did yesterday. My brother said I had a penetrating stare and that he was horrified."
"According to my aunt, my mother has started having hallucinations. She seems to be suffering from insects that don't exist or white shadows by the door."
# As a child he was fascinated with poisons and their effects, and the Nazis, becoming a worshipper of Hitler
# In 1961, at the age of 14, he started to poison members of his family, enough to make them violently ill
# In 1962 his stepmother died of a lethal dose. Young was arrested and jailed for 15 years for the attempted murder of his father, sister and friend
# On his release in 1971, he found a job and poisoned several co-workers, killing two of them. He was convicted in 1972 and given life
# He was dubbed the Teacup Poisoner but wanted to be known as the world's poisoner. He died in 1990
# The film The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995) was based on him
WI asked for views in survey on disposal of nuclear waste
David Adam, environment correspondent
Monday October 31, 2005
Some members have stripped naked for a charity calendar but now the Women's Institute has been charged with addressing a more serious matter: how to handle thousands of tons of radioactive nuclear waste.
The WI is among a host of groups asked by a government committee to weigh up the various ways of safely disposing of the UK's store of lethal radioactive waste. The results of the public discussions will feed into the committee's final advice to ministers next year, a key step in the decision over whether to build new nuclear reactors in Britain.
Gordon MacKerron, chairman of the committee on radioactive waste management, said: "This is an issue that affects the entire country. The views of the public are very important and combined with detailed scientific considerations will help us find a solution."
To guide public discussion, the committee has produced a booklet that introduces options and the criteria on which they should be evaluated. Professor MacKerron said: "The guide is designed for groups of people to get together, whether in a school, village hall or the local pub, to discuss the subject. You do not have to have any specialist knowledge on radioactive waste to take part."
More than 1,700 copies have been sent to groups including schools and councils. But the move has fuelled criticism that the committee is pursuing public consultation at the expense of expert advice. Senior scientists at the Royal Society and the House of Lords science and technology select committee have expressed concern over the committee's work and two members have quit in protest over how it ignored scientific advice.
John Large, an independent nuclear consultant, said: "This is public consultation gone bananas. The disposal of radioactive waste is extremely complex and you have to make sure what you're going to do is technically possible."
The committee has four options for the public to consider, including burying the waste deep underground or keeping it in specialist facilities at the surface. Prof MacKerron said: "We have another process for getting the best technical information together and there will be some way we will combine that with the best of the consultation." The government has said it first wants to solve what to do with nuclear waste before it builds more reactors. Some 470,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste are stored.