United Kingdom police confirm source of Novichok poisoning

The Novichok Edition vodka was released the day before Dawn Sturgess died. Pix Bristol Dry Gin

Reuters reports that police said Friday that they had located a "small bottle" containing the nerve agent during a search of the home of one victim, Charlie Rowley of Amesbury.

Rowley, 45, and his partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, collapsed at his house within hours of each other on June 30.

'Following those tests, scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within the bottle is Novichok.

A murder inquiry was started following the death of Ms Sturgess, a mother of three, on Sunday.

Mr Rowley, who regained consciousness this week, remains in a serious but stable condition in Salisbury District Hospital.

He declined to give further details on the bottle, but police said inquiries were ongoing to establish where the bottle came from and how it came into Rowley's possession.

Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu, Britain's top counterterrorism officer, told local residents this week that Novichok could remain active for 50 years if it kept in a sealed container.

"This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team".

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The discovery of the bottle comes as the Foreign Office announced independent chemical weapons experts would arrive in the United Kingdom next week to assist with the investigation.

The incident came months after the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, also with Novichok, prompting fears that Sturgess and Rowley had been exposed to some of the left-over poison.

"This is clearly a significant and positive development".

A post-mortem is due to take place next week to establish Sturgess' cause of death and an inquest will be opened and adjourned on Thursday, July 19. "This contact is being done in close consultation with the hospital and the doctors".

Private security guards will be used by police on cordons from next week to "free up some Wiltshire Police officers to get back to supporting day-to-day community policing", Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said.

Police said they had spoken "briefly" with him and will interview him further to establish how he and Sturgess came to be contaminated.

"We are now nearly two weeks on from the initial incident in Amesbury and I continue to be overwhelmed by the resilience shown by our communities".

Public health officials said the risk of exposure to the public is low, but advised people not to pick up any odd items.

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