A Kenyan has been charged with poisoning two children in Canada one of whom later died.
The 45-year old man was arrested on Sunday and later charged with two counts of administering a noxious substance to endanger life.
Francis Ngugi also faces two separate counts of unlawfully causing bodily harm and one count of criminal negligence causing death.
Authorities say three-year-old Bernice Nantanda Wamala, was sleeping over at her friend’s house in March when the two children allegedly consumed poison-laced cereal.
Walama’s mother, Maurine Mirembe, told CTV News the cereal gave them both some form of reaction, leading to vomiting and, eventually, a hospital visit.
Wamala was treated for the substance but, after some time on life support, died at the hospital while her three-year-old friend survived, but remained in the hospital for a while.
“Both children required hospitalization. One of the children, due to the consumption of the cereal, died in hospital. The other child recovered after a lengthy hospital stay,” Detective Matthew Wighton of 41 Division said in a statement on Monday.
According to the Toronto Sun, Ngugi is a former boyfriend of the surviving toddler’s mother.
The two reportedly broke up the month before the two girls were poisoned, but remained friends.
Toronto police say Ngugi accessed a controlled substance from his work and put it into a package of Golden Morn cereal, which the two girls took for breakfast on the morning of March 7 after their sleepover at the surviving child’s house.
A months-long probe by police and the Ontario Coroner’s Office culminated in the arrest of Ngugi on Sunday after it was established that the cereal the girls ate was deliberately contaminated.
Ngugi remains in custody awaiting a bail hearing.
The controlled substance was found to be nitrite, which is used as a preservative in cured meats and other foods. Overexposure to nitrites can lead to methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen.
Walama lived with her mother Mirembe, who is of Ugandan origin, in the same building she had a sleepover on March 6.
“She was healthy, happy, and dancing on Saturday, then the next day she’s gone,” Mirembe told the Toronto Sun.
Mirembe started a GoFundMe to raise support for her daughter’s funeral, which has amassed more than double the Sh2 million ($20,000).
“Losing a child under any circumstance is an unfathomable loss,” Toronto Paramedic Services said in a statement to the Star. “Toronto Paramedic Services is unable to comment on this specific 911 call due to patient privacy legislation.”