Novichok: Amesbury poisoning couple 'handled high dose'

Elias Hubbard
July 10, 2018

Sturgess died in hospital on Sunday and Charlie Rowley, her partner, remains critically ill.

Police sources said a "working hypothesis" was that while visiting Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Friday, June 29, Mr Rowley and Mrs Sturgess picked up a container for the Novichok used in the attack on the Skripals that was hastily disposed of four months earlier.

Basu said that Sturgess leaves behind three children, and offered thoughts and prayers for the woman's family.

Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, where Sturgess and Rowley were being treated and where the Skripals were hospitalised, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that staff had "worked tirelessly to save Dawn".

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Britain's counter-terror police, said Sturgess' death was "shocking and tragic news".

More than 100 police are trying to search all areas where Sturgess and Rowley had been before they became ill.

Britain has blamed Moscow for the attack on Sergei and Julia Skripal in March.

"I am appalled and shocked by the death of Dawn Sturgess, and my thoughts and condolences go to her family and loved ones", May wrote on Twitter. The case led to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain.

"We don't know that Russian Federation has been mentioned or associated with this", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In March, former Russian army Col. Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned by Novichok that had been placed on Skripal's front door in Salisbury, England.

Residents of the homeless hostel in Salisbury where Sturgess lived, which was evacuated after the couple fell ill, expressed their devastation at the news of her death.

"There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible - only Russian Federation has the means, motive and record", Boris Johnson, Britain's Foreign Affairs Secretary, said in a statement then.

"The circumstances in the Amesbury situation are troubling: recently, such cases emerge ahead of important events", Aleksandr Shulgin, Russia's envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was quoted by the Izvestia newspaper as saying in an interview published July 9.

England is also preparing to play in a World Cup quarter final match in Moscow on Wednesday.

Police are desperate to find the contaminated object handled by the couple to prevent anyone else picking it up.

On Monday, Britain's counterterrorism chief announced that investigators had determined that it was "highly likely" that this Novichok was indeed from the same batch.

Police say the nerve agent that sickened Rowley and Sturgess was the same type that nearly killed the Skripals, but scientists haven't been able to tell whether it was from the same batch.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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