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November 9, 2007
Former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer's stomach samples contained significant amounts of a deadly pesticide, the chief forensic officer at the government forensic laboratory in Kingston told the inquest into Woolmer's death on Thursday.
Fitzmore Coates said the toxicology analysis showed that there was 3.4 milligrams of cypermethrin per millilitre in Woolmer's stomach sample. He also testified that there were traces of cypermethrin in the blood and urine samples, and in a straw-coloured liquid taken from his room at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
"The final calculation of cypermethrin in the stomach content which I analysed would be significant. It could cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and death," Coates told AFP. His testimony backed the findings of Ere Sheshiah, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Woolmer. Sheshiah had said that the cause of death was "asphyxia, associated with cypermethrin poisoning".
Woolmer was found unconscious in his room at the Pegasus Hotel in Jamaica on March 18, a day after Pakistan's shock defeat to Ireland in the World Cup. The police had initially backed Sheshiah's finding that Woolmer was murdered and released a statement to that effect. However, a review by three other pathologists - Nathaniel Cary, Michael Pollanen and Lorna Martin - said Woolmer died of natural causes, possibly due to a heart attack.
As the investigation continued, toxicology tests could not conclude whether Woolmer was injected with a poison or not. Marcia Dunbar, a Jamaican forensic analyst, testified at the inquest that evidence of cypermethrin was found in blood and urine samples. Of three samples of blood taken from Woolmer, Dunbar said one tested positive for cypermethrin while the others did not, and no suitable explanation was given for this. She also said that one of the containers she received from the police containing the samples had been contaminated.
John Slaughter, a British forensic expert, later told the inquest that he found no pesticide in the sample which was tested in his lab on May 4. He said the presence of cypermethrin could have been due to contamination at the government forensic laboratory in Kingston.
However, Judith Mowatt, the director at the government forensic science laboratory, testified that she had received an email from Joe Marchesi, a crime scene manager at the metropolitan police in London, which stated that Slaughter had said the samples sent to his office were insufficient to conduct a thorough investigation. Mowatt, however, said she hadn't discussed the issue of inadequate samples with Slaughter.
"He [Marchesi] said there were concerns about the amount of samples available for them to work with," Mowatt told the Jamaica Gleaner. "He indicated that there was enough stomach content but in regard to urine, blood and straw-coloured liquid there was not enough for a tox-screen."
On November 5, the coroner Patrick Murphy had asked for further tests to be carried out on samples taken from Woolmer's body. The directive came on a request from Mark Shields, the Jamaica deputy commissioner of police, following discrepancies in the toxicology reports by forensic scientists from the Caribbean and the UK. Shields said more samples would be retrieved from the UK and the local forensic laboratory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi