Top cop refuses to confirm Woolmer drugging

The top Jamaican police officer investigating the homicide of Pakistan’s cricket coach said on Monday he has not confirmed that Bob Woolmer was incapacitated by a drug before being strangled.

The BBC reported that a toxicology test on Woolmer’s body showed the presence of a drug that would have incapacitated him.

Mark Shields, the police Deputy Commissioner in Jamaica, emphatically said his investigators have not concluded that Woolmer was drugged.

“No results and we have not confirmed anything,” the former Scotland Yard police officer said in an SMS to the Associated Press from his cellphone. “Work is ongoing.”

Shields said toxicology tests were done in Jamaica and sent with British police officers to a government-owned laboratory in their country, the Forensic Science Service, to be “independently verified”. He has not yet heard back from the British laboratory and would not discuss whether the toxicology tests indicated the presence of a drug that could have incapacitated Woolmer.

An employee who answered the phone at the laboratory’s headquarters in Birmingham, England, after business hours said nobody was available to comment.

The BBC’s Panorama programme did not identify the drug or the source of its information, and said toxicology tests were due to be given to Jamaican police next week. In London, Scotland Yard said it has no information and that the investigation and all inquiries are being handled by police in Jamaica.

Shields has said in the past that foreign investigators would examine theories that Woolmer may have been drugged. He said that would have made it easier to strangle a man as large as Woolmer, a former England Test batsman.

“A lot of force would be needed to do that,” Shields told the BBC. “Bob Woolmer was a large man and that’s why one could argue that it was an extremely strong person, or maybe more than one person, but equally the lack of external injuries suggests that there might be some other factors and that’s what we’re looking into at the moment.”

Security video from the Kingston hotel where Woolmer died was sent to a laboratory in Britain for review. Some images of the footage were obtained by the BBC.

One image shown on a BBC website showed Woolmer, dressed in a white T-shirt, talking with two people as he headed to an elevator in the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, hours before he was killed in his room. The BBC identified the two people as fans.

Woolmer (58) was found unconscious in his room and within an hour declared dead in a hospital on March 18, the day after his squad were upset by Ireland and eliminated from the World Cup.

Police said he was strangled.

Woolmer’s body was returned to his family in South Africa on Sunday for a private funeral.—Sapa-AP

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