London – Detectives working on the nerve agent poisoning of four people including the death of a woman have found the source of the deadly Novichok in a bottle.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died in hospital on July 8 after being exposed to the substance. Her death is being probed as a murder although it’s not clear that she was an intended victim.
Her partner, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, was also taken to hospital critically ill but has since regained consciousness.
“Charlie remains in a serious, but stable condition as hospital staff continue to work hard to provide the care that he needs,” authorities said.
A post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, July 17 followed by an inquest.
“On Wednesday, 11 July, a small bottle was recovered during searches of Charlie Rowley’s house in Amesbury. It was taken to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Wiltshire, for tests.” Scotland Yard said.
“Further scientific tests will be carried out to try and establish whether it is from the same batch that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March – this remains a main line of enquiry for police,” police said.
Inquiries are under way to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Rowley’s home.
The UK blamed Russia for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Sergei is a former Russian agent.
“This is clearly a significant and positive development. However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time. This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team,” said Counter Terrorism head Neil Basu.
“I also appreciate there is a lot of interest in this; however, we are not in a position to disclose any further details regarding the bottle at this stage,” he added.
The discovery of the bottle is significant – especially if labs can demonstrate it’s from the same batch used to deliberately poison the Skripals.
Around 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network continue to work on this investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police.
“Officers from the investigation team have spoken to Charlie and will be speaking to him further to establish how he and Dawn came to be contaminated. This contact is being done in close consultation with the hospital and the doctors.”
As a precaution Public Health England continues to advise people not to pick up any strange items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.
The advice remains “if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up”.