Death of Dawn Sturgess

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See also Poisoning of Sergei Skripal, Sergei Skripal, Novichok, Alleged poisoning of Alexei Navalny


Amesbury incident

SpireFM reports a 'drug related incident' June 30

See Talk: Incident In Amesbury


#FakeNews If the #Amesbury incident was poisoning with #Novichok why was the area not decontaminated according to the fire service on the scene. @SwindonFireRDS reported the incident was drug-related and their decontamination shower wasn't requested. This tweet's been deleted now - Dilyana Gaytandzhieva on Twitter July 5, 2018
Wiltshire Police Statement July 2, 2022
John Helmer and Lynn Theuer uncovered reports indicating the Sturgess and Rowley appartment was used as drug den prior to Sturgess's collapse from contaminated drugs [1]
Wiltshire Police have told us they are 'certain there's no risk to the public' following the drug-related incident.
Emergency services were called to an address in Muggleton Road on Saturday evening after a man and woman, both in their 40s, were found unconscious in a property. They are both currently receiving treatment at Salisbury District Hospital and are both in a serious condition. Det Sgt Eirin Martin, from Salisbury CID, said: "At this stage we believe the two patients have fallen ill after using from a contaminated batch of drugs, possibly heroin or crack cocaine..
Mr Hobson said Mr Rowley started falling ill around four hours after Ms Sturgess was taken to hospital, while they were preparing clothes to take to her.
..She also slammed the police for 'keeping the family in the dark' by saying that Dawn had suffered a heart attack for several days before the truth came out. Caroline, a steward with security clearance who works at the RAF base Boscombe Down near Salisbury, is the main carer for Dawn's 10-year-old daughter Grace...Dawn's two sons, Aidan, 23, and Ewan, 19, live with their father Andrew Hope, 46, a senior systems engineer also with high-level security clearance who works at Boscombe Down.
Nina Ricci's "Premier Jour" perfume bottle said to be found by Charlie Rowley in a charity bin in Salisbury on June 27. Despite being in attendance at Rowley's flat since June 30, Police announced on Friday July 13, that they had on July 11 found the 'Novichok container' this was 12 days after they had first attended the flat. Charity bins are usually sealed so that only someone with a key to unlock them can retrieve items.
“The bin where the bottle was found was regularly emptied, so it seems inconceivable that it had been there since March,” the source said. “There is also some confusion about whether the bottle was sealed when it was found.“That is the reason why the CPS could not consider murder charges against the two Russian agents. The police cannot be completely sure the bottle of novichok that poisoned Dawn Sturgess was used against the Skripals.”
Due to the unknown storage conditions of the small bottle found in the house of Mr Rowley and the fact that the environmental samples analysed in relation to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey were exposed to the environment and moisture, the impurity profiles of the samples available to the OPCW do not make it possible to draw conclusions as to whether the samples are from the same synthesis batch.

Wiltshire County Coroner Inquest into Sturgess's Death

The Wiltshire police investigation, including blood and toxicology tests carried out at Salisbury Hospital, where Sturgess and her partner Charles Rowley were admitted on June 30, 2018, showed the couple had ingested Class A drugs, the potency and combination of which were the cause of Sturgess’s death. In the coroner’s files too, there is evidence of police arrests of drug dealers in a Salisbury area network which supplied several of Sturgess’s and Rowley’s associates who were interrogated by the police, and who admitted they were together before Sturgess’s collapse.
... they have decided David Ridley, the senior coroner for Wiltshire, does not have to investigate “Russian state responsibility” and the “source” of the Novichok when conducting an inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess.

Results of Post Mortems

According to Helmer's reporting two PMs were carried out on the 9th and 17th of July. Sturgess's death was recorded on the 8th. The first autopsy has the cause of death as “post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage”. A subsequent autopsy was carried out on 17th July by another coroner and in the presence of OPCW officials, who reportedly collected tissue samples. The findings were not signed off until 29 November, 2018: “Ia post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity”.

Update Sept 2022, Helmer: Fresh source information now indicates there was only one post-mortem; that Lumb had been commissioned to undertake it by County Coroner Ridley; but that officials in London intervened to delay Lumb and put Rutty in charge. He had been Lumb's academic superior earlier in their careers; Rutty had more experience than Lumb in dealing with chemical warfare agents, sources claim.
Normal procedures would imply that a post-mortem would have been carried out on the day following the death.

Helmer spoke to experts:

They believe the record of cardiac arrest leading to brain death is proof that Novichok toxicity was not (repeat not) the cause of Sturgess’s death. According to one of these experts, sumarising his colleagues’ assessments, “Novichok leads to low acetylcholine esterase levels, and the victim essentially drowns, i.e. lungs fill with fluid. Lung fluid would have been detected in the first PM, unless the experts at Salisbury drained the lungs as part of their treatment.” Another expert on organophosphate poisoning, who works in hospital emergency wards, says that nerve agents cause paralysis of the lungs, so asphyxia is the usually given as the cause of death. He too expresses surprise at the report of cardiac arrest.

Hypoxia after cardiac arrest is a noted consequence of opioid overdose, see for instance also Hypoxic Brain Injury Following Heroin Overdose.

According to a Daily Mail interview with another family member, Dawn Sturgess's mother had criticized the Hospital and Police: [Caroline] is annoyed because for days the police told her that Dawn had a heart attack. --Diagonal (talk) 10:40, 19 May 2021 (UTC)

Its not straightforward to follow this and perhaps it overreaches in its conclusion. As far as I can make out: There should be on record a 'form 6' necessary for the coroner to release the body to funeral directors. Authorities don't deny that a form 6 would have to be provided in the circumstances and also haven't made it public. If it did record the cause of death as novichok toxicity, then there wouldn't have been much reason for the subsequent 4 month delay in signing off the post-mortem results. There was such a delay, so presumably, what was recorded on the form for cause of death does not match. --Diagonal (talk) 13:45, 7 June 2021 (UTC)

Coordinated Response to Inquiry

See also Poisoning_of_Sergei_Skripal#Police

Priti Patel announced that a public inquiry will be held (commencing Feb 25th 2022) and the inquest will be adjourned thereupon. Documents submitted by Wilts Police to the Inquest show that is under direction from Government Legal Department to avoid inadeverdent disclosure of sensitive material. They will comply with Operation Verbasco, the Counter Terrorism Policing (Metropolitan & Thames Valley Police) response to the Inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess: The Operation Verbasco team are assisting Wiltshire Police in their disclosure exercise, which will follow the same process, and have dedicated significant resource to setting up the relevant infrastructure to assist Wiltshire Police to provide relevant disclosure to the Coroner in a manner which does not harm national security.[2]

A hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, ahead of a public inquiry, was told that there is so much "sensitive" material to consider that a date for the hearings will not be set until next spring. Andrew O'Connor KC, for the inquiry said that a restriction order would normally be made by the chairman in a "transparent" way, having heard submissions from "core participants". "A restriction notice, by contrast, is essentially an instruction from a government minister made without consultation," he added, addressing the chairman. "In most - some would say all - cases it ought to be you and not the secretary of state who takes the decision as to what evidence can be adduced in open proceedings, and what material must remain in closed." However, he said that the restriction notice covers "only a small set of documents which represent an extremely small proportion of the total number of documents that have been provided, or are being provided, to the inquiry legal team by His Majesty's government." It will not prevent the chairman from considering the material during closed hearings. So far, only 40 documents of the 28,000 disclosed to the inquiry by the government and police have been passed to lawyers for the Sturgess family.

"Public" Inquiry into the Death of Dawn Sturgess

In its OPEN position statement, Op Verbasco explained that it would be necessary to protect certain aspects of police methodology and tactics in respect of the investigation of matters of national security...
Although the preparation for such an application is well under way, there is still a substantial amount of work to be done before the application can be made, including liaison with each of the “equity holders” within policing, so as to ensure that the scope of the application accurately reflects the underlying sensitivities...
The nature and extent of the national security concerns which arise in the context of this Inquiry necessitate extensive and carefully developed security arrangements. These arrangements come at a significant time-cost and expense, and maintaining the security of sensitive material which is required in the environs of the OPEN hearings will not be without its challenges, whether those hearings are held in London or Salisbury...

Charlie Rowley


The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley admitted this week that he held a 14-minute hearing into the death of Dawn Sturgess, alleged victim of a Russian Novichok attack last July, but after six months of further investigations by police, military, intelligence and toxicology experts, he still cannot hold a formal inquest and decide what caused her death.This admission by the coroner, the scheduling of a new coroner’s court hearing on April 15, and the likelihood that this too will be adjourned, now threaten the British Government’s narrative