Novichok murder inquiry police appeal for public's help

Dawn Sturgess has died after being poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent

Police investigating the death of the woman who died after she and her partner were exposed to the chemical nerve agent Novichok in Wiltshire have released more information about their investigation.

Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother-of-three, died in hospital on Sunday. She was being treated at the Salisbury District Hospital for Novichok poisoning. Her death has sparked a murder inquiry. She and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill at his home in Amesbury on Saturday 30th June. He is still in a critical condition in hospital.

The Head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, has said it is believed that the couple must have received a 'high dose' of Novichok when they handled a vessel of some sort which contained the substance. It is still unknown what that container was and where exactly the couple came into contact with it.

A hundred officers spent the weekend searching the areas the couple are known to have visited in the 48 hours before becoming ill in a bid to find the mystery object. They focused on Dawn’s address at John Baker House in Salisbury; Charlie’s address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury; and Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu appealed for anyone who recently came into contact with the couple - in the days and hours leading up to them being taken ill - to come forward.

Officers have already taken a red Ford Transit van, which Charlie Rowley was known to have travelled in on the day he fell ill, to the government laboratory at Porton Down for testing. Meanwhile 21 people who have come forward with concerns that they had been exposed to Novichok have been given the all clear.

At the weekend, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Wiltshire to speak to those involved in the investigation for himself. The local MP, John Glen, who represents the Salisbury constituency said that he had been speaking to the Government's COBRA emergencies committee and shared with them the reactions of his constituents to the ongoing situation.

Police cordons in the areas which are being searched are likely to remain for quite some time for reasons of public safety and for the investigation to progress.

However the police are still unable to specify if the nerve agent the Amesbury couple came into contact with is the same one involved in the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury back in March.

The Wiltshire police force has introduced a helpline to offer the public further advice on 0800 092 0410.

Following the death of Dawn Sturgess, the Government's COBRA emergencies committee has been holding another meeting on Monday.