Woolmer was poisoned to death: Report

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:In a major breakthrough in the Bob Woolmer murder investigation, an anonymous caller told Jamaica police that the Pakistan coach was poisoned by 'aconite', believed to be the ''perfect'' drug to mask a murder.

The Sunday Mirror reported that an anonymous man, thought to be from Pakistan, told police that 'aconite' was behind Woolmer's death, after which Mark Shields, Deputy Commissioner of Jamaica police, has ordered for new tests on the late coach's body to look for traces of the drug.

''The aconite tip is a major breakthrough and is being taken extremely seriously. The man who called Kingston police station had a Pakistani accent and was very specific about aconite and how it was administered,'' a source in the Jamaica police was quoted by the paper as saying.

'Aconite', a drug from an ancient plant mainly used by witches in the Middle Ages, causes death by asphyxiation within 30 minutes.

This revelation eventually might answer the question as to why the heavily built Woolmer died without putting up a fight. It also explains why Jamaican pathologist Dr Ere Sheshaiah found no marks around Woolmer's neck to suggest that he had been strangled, the newspaper claimed.

The police now believe that the drug which comes in the form of a white powder has been sprinkled over Woolmer's sleeping tablets or into his diabetes medicine.

''The symptoms Bob suffered before he died are identical to aconite poisoning, which is why it is a major line of inquiry now.

It would also explain how such a physically imposing man of 6ft 1 inch height died without putting up a fight,'' said Shields, who is heading the high-profile murder investigation.

''You'd struggle to get two people into his bath room let alone three, so it could be no-one was there,'' he added.

Toxologists say that 'aconite' is a poison which stops the heart and other internal organs from working, causing the victim to die of asphyxiation just like cyanide.

Prof John Henry of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, said, ''Woolmer would have felt nauseous after the drug began to work and would have gone to the bathroom to be sick. He wouldn't have realised straight away how serious his condition was, so it was doubtful he'd have phoned the hotel's reception.'' ''By the time he realised how ill he was it would be too late.

The drug causes a loss of power in the limbs. The victim's breathing gets slower and slower and eventually stops. All the while the victim's mind remains clear, so it is a particularly cruel death.'' Prof Henry further explained that the drug makes the skin clammy and hands and feet tingly. It also causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Interestingly, the 58-year-old coach had vomited violently over the floor and mirror of his hotel room, and also had diarrhoea on the night of his murder.

Toxicologists believe that 'aconite' is the perfect drug to make a murder appear to be a suicide because it leaves no mark on the body and it is also difficult to detect during a post-mortem.

''It would still be in a person's system after their death but it would not show up in a post-mortem unless it was specifically looked for, added Prof Henry.

Meanwhile, a section of British media reported that Woolmer could have fallen in his bathroom after consuming whisky following Pakistan's shock early exit from the World Cup and that could have broken his neck bone rather than by strangulation.

The revelation had fuelled mounting speculation that Woolmer's death was not murder but a tragic accident.

Based on witness version, The Mail on Sunday ran a story on how the 58-year-old former England batsman sat alone in the bar of the Hotel Pegasus in Kingston after Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup and 'drowned his sorrows' with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label.

At the hotel, he is said to have begun drinking almost immediately -- forsaking his normal solitary glass of wine for the export-strength whisky.


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