Woolmer probe: No trace of pesticide found

A specialist who performed tests on samples from Pak cricket coach Bob Woolmer said he found no traces of a potentially deadly pesticide.

updated: November 14, 2007 19:07 IST
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A Jamaican specialist who performed additional tests on stomach samples from Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer said on Monday that he found no traces of a potentially deadly pesticide.

The testimony of Das Gupta, chemistry department director at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, cast more doubt on findings by Jamaican government specialists that the late coach had been poisoned by the pesticide cypermethrin and strangled.

Gupta, testifying at the inquest into Woolmer's death, said analyses conducted Saturday at his university laboratory contradicted a previous test by Fitzmore Coates, senior officer at the government's Forensic Science Laboratory.

"I found his data puzzling and his analysis was not proper," Gupta said.

Coates had detected lethal amounts of cypermethrin in Woolmer's stomach, and also reported finding the chemical in urine and blood samples taken from the late coach.

Woolmer, 58, was found sprawled dead on the floor of his Kingston hotel room on March 18, after his powerhouse Pakistan team was eliminated from the Cricket World Cup.

Days later, Jamaica's government pathologist, Dr Ere Sheshiah, ruled he had been strangled, setting off a globe-spanning homicide investigation.

However, several foreign doctors have concluded Woolmer died from natural causes, most likely heart disease.

A British expert recently testified at the inquest that no trace of a pesticide was found in the samples - contradicting Coates and Sheshiah.

Coroner Patrick Murphy, who is presiding over the inquest, ruled that Gupta would re-examine the toxicology samples from the coach's stomach because experts disagreed on whether poisoning was a factor in his death.

The additional testing was requested by the lead investigator, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mark Shields, who is expected to testify on Tuesday.