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Bottle of Novichok nerve agent found at Charlie Rowley's house

Firefighters with Breathing Apparatus arrive at the scene in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. Photo: PA (Steve Parsons/PA)

Counter-terrorism detectives investigating the contamination of two people by the nerve agent Novichok believe they have found the source of the deadly substance.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died in hospital on Sunday 8 July while her partner Charlie Rowley, 45 is recovering in hospital.

On Wednesday 11 July, a small bottle was recovered during searches of Charlie Rowley’s house in Amesbury.

Scientists at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, confirmed to the Met Police that the substance in it was indeed Novichok.

Further tests will be carried out to establish whether it is from the same batch that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

A post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 17 July and an inquest into Dawn’s death is set to open and adjourn in Salisbury at 11am on Thursday 19 July.

Police are investigating where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Charlie’s house.

Charles Rowley is in hospital after being exposed to nerve agent novichok. Credit: Facebook

Wiltshire Police released this statement:

Today’s update from the investigation team is both significant and encouraging.

“I hope that it will further reassure our communities in both Amesbury and Salisbury that the investigation, although complex, is meticulous.

“We continue to support colleagues from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network to progress the inquiry as swiftly and safely as possible.

“The way that we do this might start to look slightly different from next week when private security guards will join my officers on some of the cordons.

“This will free up some Wiltshire Police officers to get back to supporting day-to-day community policing. We’ve also been receiving support from other Forces in the country with scene-guarding and I am incredibly grateful for this.

“It’s been exceptionally hot these last few weeks and the community has really rallied round to offer support to our officers and staff on these cordons.

“We are now almost two weeks on from the initial incident in Amesbury and I continue to be overwhelmed by the resilience shown by our communities.

– Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, Wiltshire Police
Dawn Sturgess died after being contaminated by the nerve agent. Credit: Facebook

Wiltshire Police say despite the new development, the guidance from Public Health England around picking up foreign objects hasn’t changed.

It’s a highly precautionary measure and the overall risk to the public is low but their advice is simple – ‘If you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up’. This is particularly important as we move into the school holidays.

– Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, Wiltshire Police

Public Health England added despite the new find, the risk to the public remained low.

In response to the latest police statement on the current situation in Amesbury and Salisbury the risk to the public remains low. We have not seen any further cases of illness linked to this incident.

As a precaution Public Health England continues to strongly advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

The advice remains 'if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up'.

– Public Health England

Anyone with questions or concerns can call the dedicated phone-line, staffed by police and public health, between 8am and 8pm: 0800 0920 410 or 0207 158 0124.