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

Willie Mitchell hosts second annual Fish for the Future derby in Tofino

“We’re really excited to get year number two under our belt.”

120 West Coast kids rock Bruhwiler Surf Classic in Tofino

“Surfing is a gift of this place.”

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

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

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read