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

Phase three of ‘King George Hub’ development moves forward

Coast Capital Savings headquarters next to King George SkyTrain was phase one of the project

Delta mayoral candidate Cessford releases first platform commitments

Cessford to focus on supporting farming and sports, while promoting traffic safety around schools

Students lend hand decorating Ocean Park Community Orchard shed

Grade 1-2 classes from Ocean Cliff Elementary at South Surrey garden Friday.

Surrey woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

Surrey artists ‘Paint the Train’ in inaugural celebration of heritage rail

Award-winning entries to tour Cloverdale in September, October

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

Canada to boost support for riskier forms of renewable energy: minister

A $30-million contribution to a $117-million tidal project hopes to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy

B.C. watching Trans Mountain review, George Heyman says

Court decision stalling pipeline ‘validates’ environmental concerns

New concert series focuses on Fraser Valley musicians

Valley Music Co.’s Listen Local Concert Series begins Sept. 28 at High Street mall

Browns beat streak, win first NFL game in 635 days

Baker Mayfield erased any doubts about why the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick

New silver collector coin features Indigenous dancer

New silver collectors coin captures fast-paced energy of an Indigenous powwow

Off Nova Scotia, a bid to ‘unravel the mystery’ of great white sharks

The question: Is Nova Scotia the second mating site for Atlantic white sharks, something scientists say could be key to protecting the endangered species.

Man arrested after carjacking, collision, pepper spray attacks in Vancouver

Vancouver police say one man is in custody after a chaotic scene of events in the downtown core

Most Read