Pre-inquest hearing into death of Novichok poisoning victim Dawn Sturgess

The 44-year-old died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle containing the nerve agent, months after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned.

Demolition work at the home of Charlie Rowley, where Dawn Sturgess collapsed after being exposed to Novichok
Demolition work at the home of Charlie Rowley, where Dawn Sturgess collapsed after being exposed to Novichok

A coroner is to hold a pre-inquest review into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who came into contact with a perfume bottle containing the nerve agent Novichok.

Former appeal court judge Baroness Hallett will use the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice to examine the scope of the inquest, among other things.

Ms Sturgess, 44, collapsed at her partner Charlie Rowley’s home in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on June 30 2018, after unwittingly spraying herself with the lethal chemical.

She died in hospital on July 8, while Mr Rowley, who initially found the “perfume” and gave it to Ms Sturgess, was left seriously ill but recovered.

Salisbury incident
Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ms Sturgess’s death followed a chemical attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, who were found unconscious on a park bench eight miles away in Salisbury four months earlier.

They were both released from hospital before Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley fell ill.

Independent investigator the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons later confirmed that the toxic chemical which killed Ms Sturgess was the same nerve agent as that which poisoned the Skripals.

Police said there was enough evidence to charge two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with offences including conspiracy to murder over the attack.

Salisbury incident
The box that contained the perfume bottle found by Charlie Rowley, which he gave to his partner, Dawn Sturgess (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The pair later gave a much-derided interview for state television in which they claimed they were only in Salisbury for a sightseeing tour of the cathedral.

Russia repeatedly denied any involvement, with President Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects were merely civilians, not military officers.

The poisonings caused widespread fear across Salisbury and further increased tensions between Westminster and the Kremlin.

No date has yet been set for the full inquest on Ms Sturgess.

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