2018 Amesbury poisonings

2018 Amesbury poisonings
Location Amesbury, Wiltshire, England
Date 30 June 2018
Weapons Novichok (believed)
Deaths Dawn Sturgess
(8 July 2018, aged 44, after being admitted to hospital)
Victims Charlie Rowley
(45; admitted to hospital)

On 30 June 2018, two British nationals, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, were admitted to hospital in Amesbury, England. Police determined that they were poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent of the same kind used in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, 8 miles (13 km) away, almost four months prior.[1][2][3] Sturgess died a few days later, and Rowley regained consciousness.

Admissions to hospital, death of Sturgess[]

According to the subsequent press report released by the Metropolitan Police, at 10:15 on Saturday the 30 June 2018, the South Western Ambulance Service was called to a residential address, after Dawn Sturgess had collapsed. She was subsequently taken to hospital and admitted. That same day, at 15:30, the South Western Ambulance Service was called back to that same address, after Charlie Rowley had fallen ill. He was taken to hospital, and Wiltshire Police were informed of both admissions and (thus) were alerted to the incident.

On 8 July, Sturgess died.[4] On 10 July, Rowley regained consciousness and enjoyed a "small but significant improvement to his condition" according to the hospital.[5] On 11 July, he was no longer in critical condition and the hospital downgraded his condition to "serious but stable".[6] The same day, officers from the investigation team spoke with Rowley.[6]


The incident is being investigated by the Specialist Operations Directorate of the Metropolitan Police, assisted nationally by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Network and locally by Wiltshire Police. According to the Metropolitan Police, there is nothing in either of the victims' backgrounds to suggest that they were deliberately targeted, and there have been no other reports of people presenting with similar symptoms. The couple were believed to have been near the roads that were sealed off during the investigation of the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury.[7]

During initial assessment, medical staff believed that the patients' illness was caused by the use of contaminated illegal drugs. But on 2 July, hospital staff had concerns over the symptoms the couple were displaying, and sent samples from both patients to the Government's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down for analysis. The laboratory confirmed that the patients were exposed to Novichok nerve agent on 4 July.[2][8]

According to BBC News, the "most likely hypothesis" was that the Novichok was left over from the attack on the Skripals and that the contaminated item which poisoned the couple "could be a vial or syringe because of the couple's lifestyle", as it is believed the Novichok was disposed of "in a haphazard way".[9] Friends of the couple told The Guardian that Rowley frequently scavenged recycling bins for objects that he could sell, and that the couple's houses contained "loads of household things" they had picked up.[10]

Sites in both Amesbury and Salisbury which were believed to have been visited by the couple were cordoned off. These sites are the local Boots Pharmacy, the Baptist Centre, and Muggleton Road in Amesbury, and the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury.[8] Local residents were warned of an increased police presence, including officers wearing protective equipment.[8]

On 6 July, police announced that officers had identified and spoken to several key witnesses and were trawling through more than 1,300 hours of CCTV footage which has been collected so far.[11]

The Metropolitan Police announced on 13 July 2018[12][13] that they had identified the source of the nerve agent that poisoned Sturgess and Rowley as being a "small bottle" discovered at Rowley's house in Amesbury which was confirmed by analysis at Dstl Porton Down to contain Novichok.

Government response[]

On 5 July, Home Secretary Sajid Javid chaired a meeting of the COBRA committee to discuss the incident.[14]

In a statement to the House of Commons, Javid insisted that the government was allowing teams to conduct a full investigation into the poisoning before coming to a full conclusion. He later re-iterated the United Kingdom's initial question to Russia regarding the Novichok agent after the Skripals' poisoning, accusing them of using the UK as a "dumping ground".[15]


  1. ^ "Two collapse near spy poisoning site". BBC News. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "Amesbury pair poisoned by Novichok". BBC News. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  3. ^ "Amesbury substance: Paramedics wore hazmat suits". Sky News. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  4. ^ "UPDATE: Woman dies following exposure to nerve agent in Amesbury". Metropolitan Police. Retrieved 2018-07-08. 
  5. ^ Morris, Steven; Bannock, Caroline (10 July 2018). "Man poisoned by novichok regains consciousness". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  6. ^ a b Morris, Steven; Dodd, Vikram (11 July 2018). "Amesbury novichok victim 'reveals doctors feared he would die'". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2018. 
  7. ^ Agerholm, Harriet (4 July 2018). "Amesbury incident latest: Wiltshire couple were exposed to novichok nerve agent, police confirm". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c "Wiltshire pair poisoned by Novichok nerve agent". BBC News. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "Poisoned pair 'handled contaminated item'". BBC News. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2018-07-05. 
  10. ^ Bannock, Caroline; Dodd, Vikram; Morris, Steven (6 July 2018). "Novichok poisonings: search intensifying to find contaminated item". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  11. ^ "Updated statement re: Amesbury". Retrieved 7 July 2018. 
  12. ^ UPDATE: Source of nerve agent contamination identified, 13 July 2018, retrieved 13 July 2018 
  13. ^ Dodd, Vikram; Morris, Steven (13 July 2018). "Novichok that killed woman came from bottle, police believe". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2018. 
  14. ^ "Amesbury poisoning - LIVE: Government to hold emergency Cobra meeting after novichok nerve agent leaves Wiltshire couple fighting for their life". Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  15. ^ "Amesbury poisoning: Russia using UK as 'dumping ground", BBC News, 05 July 2018