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Sask. police probing sudden death for link to Kenneth Law

Kenneth Law of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested Tuesday on two charges of counselling or aiding suicide following the deaths of two Toronto-area people this year. (Pam Davies/CBC - image credit)
Kenneth Law of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested Tuesday on two charges of counselling or aiding suicide following the deaths of two Toronto-area people this year. (Pam Davies/CBC - image credit)

Police in Regina have reopened an investigation into a sudden death that may be connected to an Ontario man who was arrested earlier this week for the alleged sale of lethal substances.

Kenneth Law of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested Tuesday on two charges of counselling or aiding suicide following the deaths of two Toronto-area people this year.

Law is alleged to have operated numerous websites selling materials used for euthanasia and suicide, including highly concentrated packets of sodium nitrite, a common preservative fatal in high doses.

In a statement to CBC News, the Regina Police Service said the decision to reopen the case was made in response to new information provided to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service by Peel Regional Police, located west of Toronto.

They provided no other information about the case.

Law enforcement agencies across the country were alerted to the possibility that people in their jurisdictions might have purchased the lethal powder from Law.

WATCH | Law arrested, charged:

Other police forces across Canada said they were in contact with Peel police or were aware of the case.

But the ripple effects have been felt far outside Canada's borders. Peel police allege Law mailed some 1,200 packages to 40 countries and say the force is trying to co-ordinate its investigation with international partners.

The Public Prosecutor's Office in Trento, northern Italy, has opened an investigation into the death of a 63-year-old high school teacher living in a tiny town in the Italian Alps. The woman died on April 4.

Lt.-Col. Michele Capurso of Italy's military police said they are trying to determine whether a canister and other materials found at the scene were ordered through one of Law's online businesses.

Capurso said that late last month, the Italian division of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, received an alert from Peel police about a total of nine of Law's possible customers, including residents of Rome, Milan and Naples.

The other customers, police say, were identified and safe.

An investigation by the Times of London previously linked Law's alleged business to several deaths in the U.K. and the United States.

Both the Police Service of Scotland and the U.K.'s National Crime Agency told CBC News they are working with Canadian and other police agencies.

Law bankrupt 

Law appeared in a Brampton, Ont., courtroom on Wednesday, but the matter was put over to next week. He remains in custody. Law previously told CBC News that the allegations against him were false.

Documents reveal Law was $130,000 in debt and filed for bankruptcy in April 2020.

He had been working in the kitchen of a historic Toronto hotel prior to being charged. He is also a licensed professional engineer but was not permitted to practise because he has been paying reduced licence fees since February 2012.

Civil court documents from that same year show that the Royal Bank of Canada sued Law for non-payment of credit card debt. A judge ordered him to pay $27,000 plus interest on the debt.

Peel police say they have searched locations in connection with the case but did not provide details.

Neighbours on the Mississauga street where Law lives say they saw several police cars parked outside a house on Tuesday, the day Law was arrested. One resident said officers in an unmarked vehicle were stationed nearby for a week before the arrest.

Some mental health advocates said while they weren't previously aware of the prevalence of sodium nitrite as a method of self-harm, they hope good will come from this case.

David Smith, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Peel Dufferin branch, said it might bring awareness to the need for support services.

"To see someone who might be undermining that by promoting ... suicide as a way to feel better is really hard to watch," he said. Smith said his organization is monitoring for a rise in calls for crisis support.

"If you need help," he said, "reach out."

If you or someone you know is struggling, here's where to get help: