Police find source of deadly Novichok
Nerve agent that killed woman ‘came from small bottle’
Counter terrorism detectives investigating the contamination of two people by Novichok believe they have found the source of the deadly substance.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, died and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, is seriously ill in hospital after they were exposed to the nerve agent last month.
New Scotland Yard said that on Wednesday a small bottle was recovered during searches of Mr Rowley’s home in Amesbury.
It was taken to the nearby Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire for tests. Following those tests, scientists have now confirmed the substance in the bottle is Novichok.
The UK has invited experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent.
Further scientific tests will be carried out to try to establish whether it is from the same batch that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March. This remains a main line of inquiry for police.
Inquiries are under way to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Mr Rowley’s home.
Ms Sturgess, a mother of three, died in hospital on Sunday night having been exposed to Novichok.
A post-mortem examination is scheduled to take place on Tuesday and an inquest into her death is due to open and adjourn in Salisbury on Thursday.
Mr Rowley, who regained consciousness this week, remains in a serious but stable condition in Salisbury District Hospital.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “This is clearly a significant and positive development.
“However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left, and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time.
“This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team.
“I also appreciate there is a lot of interest in this, however, we are not in a position to disclose any further details regarding the bottle at this stage.
“The safety of the public and our officers remains paramount and we are continuing to work closely with Wiltshire Police, scientists, health experts from Public Health England and other partners.”
About 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network continue to work on this investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police.
An investigator in a chemical suit works behind screens on Rollestone Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire.