Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess caught on CCTV hours before poisoning

Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess caught on CCTV hours before poisoning

Police believe the couple may have come in contact with a contaminated vial or other item discarded in a public place after a March nerve agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury.

The pair, Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44 are in hospital in Salisbury after being exposed to the nerve in Amesbury in Wiltshire, just eight miles from where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in Salisbury in a targeted attack.

Britain has accused Russian Federation of poisoning the Skripals with the nerve agent - developed by the Soviet military during the Cold War - at the former spy's home in Salisbury in what was the first known offensive use of such a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two.

The Skripal poisoning "really affected business and life in general in Salisbury" in recent months, he said.

The Skripals spent weeks in a critical condition in the same hospital before recovering slowly and being discharged.

"Russia has categorically denied and continues to categorically deny the possibility of any kind of involvement to what was happening there", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Thursday.

"The Novichok gel that was smeared on the handle of the Skripals' house was presumably transported in some device or syringe", he said.

Investigators have yet to determine how Sturgess and Rowley came into contact with the nerve agent, but they've closed down sites in Amesbury and Salisbury where the victims are thought to have traveled before they were found sick.

"Where we have decontaminated sites from the previous exposure to this nerve agent - we are happy that those sites are safe and the public should know that they are safe", he said.

Alastair Hay, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds, said there is "no specific method for the detection of Novichoks in the environment" because the use of the nerve agent was not considered likely when monitors were designed.

Sam Hobson was with Rowley when he became violently ill on Saturday. "How dumb (do) they think (Russia) is to use "again" so-called "Novichok" in the middle of the FIFA World Cup", Russia's embassy to the Netherlands wrote on Twitter on Thursday, stressing the importance of hosting the tournament to Russia.

The two Britons taken ill on Saturday were initially thought to have taken an overdose of heroin or crack cocaine.

On Thursday, Britain's Security Minister Ben Wallace called on Russian Federation to give details about the nerve agent attack on the Skripals.

Wallace did add, however, that he is "waiting for the phone call from the Russian state - the offer is there".

However, the Met police's senior counter-terrorism officer Neil Basu will later reveal that samples from both patients are sent to Porton Down laboratory for analysis on Monday. "They are the ones who could fill in all the clues to keep people safe". He said that Sturgess fell ill first then Rowley later on.

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