• STV
  • MySTV

Murder investigation after death of woman by Novichok

Dawn Sturgess died on Sunday evening in hospital, Scotland Yard has said.

Investigators in chemical suits works behind screens erected in Rollestone Street, Salisbury
Investigators in chemical suits works behind screens erected in Rollestone Street, Salisbury Yui Mok/PA

A mother-of-three has died after she and her partner were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.

Scotland Yard said they have launched a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital on Sunday evening.

Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, is still in a critical condition after the couple fell ill in Amesbury, Wiltshire, last Saturday.

The murder investigation is the second major probe involving the nerve agent this year, following the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal who were left critically ill in March. Both have recovered.

Tests have revealed that Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were exposed to the nerve agent after touching a contaminated item with their hands.

The possibility that the two investigations might be linked is "clearly a key line of inquiry for police", the Met said.

A police officer stands in front of screens erected in Rollestone Street, Salisbury
A police officer stands in front of screens erected in Rollestone Street, Salisbury Yui Mok/PA

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu described Ms Sturgess's death as "shocking and tragic news" and said the force's thoughts were with the families of both victims.

"This terrible news has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act," he added.

"Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life."

Ms Sturgess's family are being given support by specialist officers and have asked for privacy.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked", and sent her "thoughts and condolences" to the family.

"Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident, which is now being investigated as a murder," she added.

"The Government is committed to providing full support to the local community as it deals with this tragedy."

Dr Christine Blanshard, from Salisbury District Hospital where Ms Sturgess was treated, described her death as "desperately sad" and sent her condolences to the family.

She added: "The staff here at Salisbury District Hospital worked tirelessly to save Dawn.

"Our staff are talented, dedicated and professional and I know today they will be hurting too.

"They did everything they could."

A police officer stands beside a sealed off bin
A police officer stands beside a sealed off bin Stefan Rousseau/PA

A post-mortem examination will be scheduled to take place in due course.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: "I know this news will affect more people than just those who knew Dawn - it will affect our communities right across the county.

"Understandably, this is likely to raise the level of concern in Amesbury and Salisbury."

Public Health England (PHE) said their assessment "remains that the overall risk to the general public remains low".

PHE director Paul Cosford said: "As a precaution we still advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as needles, syringes or unusual containers."

The second nerve agent emergency in four months prompted a diplomatic row, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid accusing the Russian state of using Britain as a "dumping ground for poison".

The Russian Embassy hit back, accusing the Government of trying to "muddy the waters" and "frighten its own citizens".

Mr Javid, who visited Wiltshire on Sunday, said Ms Sturgess's death "only strengthens our resolve to find out exactly what has happened".

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down confirmed on Wednesday that the victims had been exposed to Novichok.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.