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

Andrea Rondeau column: I’ll beg if I have to, to get you to vote

Please, please, please mail in your vote in the proportional representation election.

Sarah Simpson column: Cowichan sure knows when to step up to help

Shortly after my birthday last year I wrote a column about gifts.… Continue reading

Cowichan United seeing positives despite results

U21 team falls to Lakehill, but coaches see improvement

T.W. Paterson column: The story behind the lost certificate, conclusion

In early March 1915 the 5th Bn. was near Estaire, France and several men had already been shot.

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read