Former Queen’s student sentenced to seven years for poisoning colleague

Zijie Wang to serve 2,180 days in a Canadian prison, victim’s ultrasound set for mid-December

Zijie Wang at Tuesday's sentencing.
Zijie Wang at Tuesday's sentencing. 

Former Queen’s student and convicted poisoner Zijie Wang, 26, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Tuesday, nearly a year after planting a carcinogen in his colleague’s food.

Although he was sentenced to seven years on two counts—administering a noxious substance and aggravated assault—Wang will serve his prison time concurrently. Aside from the pre-sentence custody credit of 375 days, he’ll spend 2,180 days behind bars.

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Allan Letourneau handed Wang a 10-year prohibition on weapons possession. Wang will not be allowed to contact the victim or his family.

The Judge chose not to deliver his 24-page sentencing report orally, but did say he had un-redacted information from the victim’s impact statement which he felt shouldn’t have been initially redacted from the report.

When given an opportunity to address Judge Letourneau about his sentence, Wang declined.

Since 2014, both Wang and the victim had been working together in the Queen’s University chemistry department performing post-doctoral work. The two had formerly been roommates.

Wang injected N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a chemical used to stimulate the growth of cancer in rats, into the victim’s food and water several times in January of 2018. 

While no motive was revealed to the court during the sentencing, Wang pleaded guilty to administering a noxious substance and aggravated assault in October.

At the victim’s testimony hearing in November, the defence asked for a prison sentence of five years or less while the Crown pushed for seven. Judge Letourneau chose the latter.

In his impact statement given in November, the victim alleged his contract with the Queen’s chemistry department wasn’t renewed in an effort to “get him out.” He also claimed the contracts of less experienced employees had been renewed.

Citing the victim’s desire for privacy, the University didn’t directly respond to these allegations in a statement to The Journal.

“Our hearts go out to the victim and his family,” the statement read. “We recognize this highly unusual and upsetting crime continues to have a significant impact on everyone involved.”

According to the statement, Wang acquired the NDMA resources independently and without the University’s knowledge.

“The hazardous material reported as being used by the individual was not something that was available from university inventory,” Dan Langham, director of environmental health and safety at Queen’s, told The Journal. “How the individual acquired either the product or the materials required to make it, has not been disclosed to the university.”

Langham added there are measures in place to ensure the protection of materials from theft and unauthorized access. The University utilizes an inventory system to identity discrepancies and hazardous materials are accounted for following arrival on campus.

“It is also the responsibility of the lab personnel and the principal investigator of the space to be aware of and monitor the activities that are taking place in the lab,” Langham said.

When the victim gave his testimony in November, he expressed concerns about his health following the poisonings. He told the court two small bumps appeared on his chest since the poisonings, and he’d made an appointment to determine whether they were cancerous.

“I’m still waiting for the sound of the other shoe to drop,” the victim said, adding he will “suffer for life.”

On Tuesday, the victim informed the court his family physician had recommended he undergo an ultrasound, which is set for Dec. 19.

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