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Bob poisoned, then strangled: reports

But Mark Shields, the Deputy Police Commissioner leading the inquiry, refuses to confirm poison was found.

cricket Updated: Apr 15, 2007 16:36 IST

The long-awaited toxicology report in Bob Woolmer's murder case has indicated that the Pakistan cricket coach was poisoned before being strangled in his hotel room.

According to a source close to the Jamaican police, the investigators probing in Woolmer's mysterious death believe the South African was poisoned to incapacitate him before murdering him in his Jamaica Pegasus hotel room around one month ago, London daily The Sunday Times reported.

But Mark Shields, the Deputy Police Commissioner leading the inquiry, refused to confirm poison was found and said the toxicology samples and postmortem report would be sent to Britain for further analysis.

"If he was manually strangled and asphyxiated, why didn't he put up a fight? I've always said there was a possibility he was incapacitated by something else. If I tell you they (the results) have come back and we are conducting further tests, I suggest you draw your own conclusions," he said at a press conference in Kingston on Saturday.

Shields described the toxicology results as "encouraging" but said the probe could take a "long haul".

"There are three possibilities. One is that someone could give themselves up. Two, there could be a massive breakthrough or, three, we are here for the long haul.

"At the moment we are certainly in category three. We would love to move to one but I think that is unlikely at this stage," Shield said.
He quashed the speculation that it was the drug aconite, which causes asphyxia.

The tests, which are preliminary, also showed relatively low levels of alcohol in Woolmer's blood, contradicting reports he had downed a bottle of scotch before he died.

"There was evidence he was drinking, but no evidence that he was drunk," the source was quoted as saying by The Sunday Times.

Shields said they were still reviewing CCTV footage recovered from the hotel and there was some progress in the analysis of these materials, which were sent to Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom.

"I now have some of the results which are excellent and give a clearer picture of what took place," Shields said.

But he said it did not bring them any closer to identifying who entered Woolmer's room on the fateful night. "It's too early to speak specifically about a suspect," he said.

Shields also said that around 30 officers were working full time on the case, for which over 100 witness statements have been gathered.

Many of these statements will be put under the microscope from April 23 when the inquest into the death begins in Kingston.

Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room after Pakistan's humiliating defeat at the hands of minnows Ireland at the World Cup.