Man Dies Four Years After Colleague Poisoned His Sandwich
A young man who was in a coma for nearly four years after his sandwich was poisoned by a colleague has died.
The 26-year-old fell ill in the summer of 2016 after finishing his shift at a German metal-fitting company, and took himself to hospital when he couldn’t stop vomiting and could barely walk.
Then 23, the young man – identified only as Nick N – soon slipped into a coma and suffered severe brain damage. The cause of his sudden decline was later identified as mercury poisoning.
Doctors realised Nick had ingested lead acetate and mercury, but for years nobody could figure out how he might have come into contact with the deadly toxin – until two other co-workers at the factory fell ill in similar circumstances.
The case came to light in 2018, after one colleague at the company ARI Armaturen, in the town of Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, in north-western Germany, noticed a white powder on the bread during his lunch break.
Video surveillance cameras were later installed at the workplace, which captured the suspect – named only as Klaus O, 57 – placing the substance on his colleagues’ sandwiches.
Tests identified it as lead acetate and mercury, both almost tasteless substances which, if ingested, can lead to serious organ damage. Further searches at Klaus O’s home uncovered mercury, lead and cadmium.
Klaus O, who worked at the factory for 38 years, was convicted of attempted murder and bodily injury in March in three cases, after two other colleagues suffered kidney damage. He was sentenced to life in prison.
On Thursday, January 9, state prosecutor Veit Walter said a new trial could be ordered by Germany’s Supreme Court now that one of the victims had lost his life, BBC News reports.
However, the case is far from closed as Nick N is now at least the 22nd employee at ARI Armaturen to have died before reaching the age of retirement in the last 20 years – raising fears that 57-year-old Klaus O might have been poisoning people all along, prosecutor Moritz Kutkuhn told The Washington Post.
Kutkuhn said it was ‘suspicious to us that there were 21 deaths at that same company’, having died of either cancer or heart attacks, saying it was ‘alarming’ that they all had medical problems.
Last year, police in Bielefeld began exhuming their bodies to investigate whether poison was present in their remains, with authorities believing it could possibly have been caused by heavy metal poisoning.
Kutkuhn did say poisoning has been ruled out in nine cases, while 12 are still under investigation.
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