Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Amesbury poisoning: Dawn Sturgess dies from Novichok exposure

Russia? Brexit distraction? Twitter erupts amid ‘unknown substance’ case near Salisbury Police officers near Amesbury Baptist Church which has been cordoned off after a'major incident
Glenn Montgomery | 09 July, 2018, 04:12

The killing of Dawn Sturgess, a mother of three, will increase pressure on President Putin after Sajid Javid, the home secretary, accused the Kremlin of using Britain as a dumping ground for poison.

The woman, identified by police as Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington was thought to have handled a "contaminated item" at Salisbury on 29 June before falling ill.

Tests have revealed that the Amesbury couple were exposed to the nerve agent after touching a contaminated item with their hands.

Scotland Yard said they have launched a murder investigation - the second major probe involving the nerve agent this year, following the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

The investigation is being led by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network and about 100 detectives are working round the clock, he said.

"Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life", he said.

The British defence lab determined earlier that Novichok, a type of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, was used on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer once convicted in his homeland of spying for Britain.

Russia, now hosting the soccer World Cup, has denied any involvement in the March incident and suggested the British security services carried out the attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

On Twitter, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked" by Sturgess' death.

The Skripal case, which Metropolitan Police detectives are investigating as attempted murder, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russian Federation and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides. Both survived the exposure and have since been discharged from the hospital.

Sturgess died at Salisbury District Hospital, the same facility that nursed the critically ill Skripals.

But he said health authorities continued to assert the risk to the public was low. Police said there is no evidence that either Sturgess or Rowley visited any of the sites where the Skripals may have been poisoned.

Hospital officials said late Saturday that a number of people including a police officer had sought medical advice in the last week but had been found not to need any treatment.

"Today is the day we hoped would never come", said Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard.

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