Police secure a point of interest in Salisbury, where counter-terrorism officers are investigating after a woman and her partner were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, Monday July 9, 2018. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

UK police say they’ve spoken to surviving nerve-agent victim

Police said this is now a homicide investigation after 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess died Sunday following her poisoning.

British police said Wednesday they have spoken briefly to the surviving victim of a nerve-agent poisoning in southwest England as they try to uncover how he and his girlfriend were exposed to the deadly toxin.

The Metropolitan Police force said officers had spoken to Charlie Rowley, “and will be looking to further speak with him in the coming days.”

Salisbury District Hospital, where Rowley is being treated, said his condition has improved and he is no longer critical.

Lorna Wilkinson, the hospital’s director of nursing, said “his condition is now serious, but stable.”

Rowley, 45, and 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess collapsed June 30 in the town of Amesbury. Police say they handled a container contaminated with Novichock, the same nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia eight miles (13 kilometres) away in the city of Salisbury in March.

Sturgess died on Sunday.

Related: Moscow says it regrets UK nerve agent poisoning death

Related: Daughter of poisoned ex-Russian spy says she’s recovering

Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu, Britain’s top counterterrorism officer, told residents of Amesbury Tuesday night that Novichok could remain active for 50 years if kept in a sealed container. He said he could not guarantee there are no further traces of the lethal poison in the area.

“I would love to be able to say that we have identified and caught the people responsible and how we are certain there are no traces of nerve agent left anywhere in Wiltshire,” he said.

“But the brutal reality is that I cannot offer you any reassurance or guarantee at this time.”

He said there is so far no forensic proof that the Novichok that poisoned Sturgess and Rowley comes from the same batch used in March against the Skripals — but that any other explanation is extremely unlikely.

“This is a very rare substance banned by the international community and for there to be two separate, distinct incidents in one small English county is implausible, to say the least,” he said.

The nerve agent was produced in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Britain has accused the Russian state of the attack on the Skripals, a charge denied by the Kremlin.

Basu said he hopes Rowley continues to improve and can give police details about the location of the container. He said it is possible Sturgess and Rowley had the container in their possession for some time before opening it with disastrous results.

“The brutal fact is we don’t know where they found it,” he said. “I am hoping Charlie recovers and when he recovers he will be able to tell us and perhaps shed some light on it, which will narrow our search dramatically.

“There is a possibility they found it on March 5 and only opened it in the past 10 days.”

___

Jill Lawless contributed to this story.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Drag racing open house attracts 200-plus in Campbell River

Proponents still need to provide more information to the City

Interested in opening a cannabis store? City to process applications through provincial referral

People interested in opening a retail cannabis outlet should get their paperwork… Continue reading

Campbell River’s advisory committee restructuring questioned

A group made up of 10 local non-profit agencies had serious concerns… Continue reading

Cortes Island to identify potential industrial land

Process will look long-term at updating OCP for the island

VIDEO: Campbell River residents go underground at John Hart generating station

About 1,250 people expected at sold-out tour on Sunday

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

New York books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor of the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication

B.C. couple plans sustainable, zero-waste life in the Shuswap

Plan includes building a tiny house before the snow flies

Housing slowdown forecast to cool B.C. economy

Conference Board says pipeline, trade uncertainty affecting investment

B.C. hockey product eyes shot at Olympic spot with China

Fletcher is one of 24 who travelled to Shenzhen, China for the first official Olympic dev camp.

Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

LETTER: Who do we blame for the tragedy of Marrisa Shen’s death?

The B.C. girl was killed in a Burnaby park last July

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Most Read