Snake venom may have killed Woolmer - reports

The former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer may have been drugged with snake venom, according to the police who are investigating his death. A friend of the family said Gill Woolmer has been informed that her husband was probably subdued by a "natural toxin" which left his body by the time of the forensic examination.

Neil Manthorp, a respected South African cricket commentator, said in the English tabloid the Mail on Sunday: "I spoke to Gill and her sons Russell and Dale two days ago. The boys both said police had told their mum the toxicology results are inconclusive.

"The detective told Gill they believe it must have been a natural poison, such as a snake venom, which leaves the body fairly soon afterwards. The police theory is that this was administered to Bob in the bathroom of his hotel room to subdue him before he was strangled. The officer said that the only way to prove this was to look for tissue damage, which was why they had sent the results back to England for further testing."

The police suspect Woolmer to have been injected with venom and not bitten by a snake, as there are no venomous snakes in that part of the Caribbean. David Warrell, the professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Oxford University, who has helped police in a number of international murder inquiries, said the vomit and faeces found near Woolmer's body were consistent with someone with venom in their bloodstream.

"Snake venom cannot be slipped to someone in a drink or food," he said. "It also cannot be injected into any part of the body. It has to go directly into a vein, meaning this man would have had to have been held down for the 20 minutes or so it would have taken for paralysis to set in."