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Woolmer died of asphyxiation, not poisoning: Jamaica police

It has been reported that an ancient drug, aconite, could have been used to kill Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer.

cricket Updated: Apr 04, 2007 12:28 IST

Jamaican police are standing by their account of asphyxiation being the cause of former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer's death and denounced reports that he may have been poisoned.

It was reported that an ancient drug, aconite, could have been used to kill Woolmer. The police in Kingston, had earlier said that the cause was asphyxiation, owing to manual strangulation.

Karl Angell, director of communications for the Jamaica Constabulary Force, stood firm on Monday by police reports that Woolmer was strangled.

"Thus far we have to work with what is at hand. At hand is the pathologist report that he (Woolmer) died from asphyxiation as a result of manual strangulation," Angell was quoted as saying by the Jamaica Gleaner.

"As far as talks of poisoning (are concerned), we await the toxicology report from the forensic lab," he added.

Aconite is said to shut down an individual's organs and slow the breathing. Death is usually by asphyxiation within 30 minutes.

The Sunday Mirror in Britain reported on Sunday that a Pakistani had called Jamaican police and claimed that aconite killed Woolmer.

The newspaper quoted John Henry, professor of toxicology at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, as saying: "Woolmer would have felt nauseous after the drug began to work and would have gone to the bathroom to be sick. He wouldn't have realised straight away how serious his condition was, so it was doubtful he'd have phoned the hotel's reception.

"By the time he realised how ill he was it would be too late. He would have collapsed and been unable to move. The drug causes a loss of power in the limbs."

Henry explained: "Aconite is a poison which stops the heart and other internal organs from working, causing the victim to die of asphyxiation. It works like cyanide."

Aconite is said to be widely used in Pakistan and has been blamed for the deaths of several high profile individuals.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel March 18, less than 24 hours after his team lost all hope of advancing in the World Cup after a shock defeat to Ireland at Sabina Park. He was later pronounced dead at 12.14 pm, at the nearby University Hospital of the West Indies.

First Published: Apr 04, 2007 12:12 IST