Pathologist says cause of Woolmer’s death uncertain

Canadian pathologist Michael Pollanen told the inquest into the death of Bob Woolmer that he couldn’t determine the cause of death of the Pakistan cricket coach who died during the World Cup in March.

Pollanen testified on Monday that Woolmer wasn’t strangled, as police initially suggested.

Under cross-examination by director of prosecutions Kent Pantry, Pollanen said that he understood a foreign substance was detected in Woolmer’s body.

Questioned by Pantry as to whether he was informed that poison was detected in Woolmer’s body, Pollanen said: ”I was aware that there was a positive toxicology finding relating to Woolmer’s death.”

Pressed to explain the foreign substance and about his knowledge of a toxin called cypermethrin, Pollanen responded by saying ”it is a form of insecticide or herbicide”.

Pollanen said he couldn’t state the symptoms that cypermethrin would induce in a person, but he did say ”it could weaken the body movement”.

Pollanen also told coroner Patrick Murphy and the 11-member jury that he was not presented with a copy of the toxicology report, which made it impossible for him to determine the cause of death.

Pollanen said that in his opinion, strangulation wasn’t indicated as the cause of death.

”If the hyoid bone [in the neck] was broken, it would be a good evidence of injury to the neck,” he said. ”It was not broken in this case.”

Jamaican government pathologist Ere Sheshiah had said Woolmer died of manual strangulation — a conclusion that rocked the cricket world as Jamaican authorities said they were treating his death as murder.

The former 58-year-old former England international was found unconscious in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 18, a day after Pakistan made a shock exit from the Cricket World Cup, losing to minnows Ireland.

When authorities said the death was suspicious, it prompted speculation that it might somehow be linked to match-fixing in international cricket.

In June, Jamaican police said further investigation showed Woolmer died of natural causes.

”In my view there is no foundation of physical attack or pressure on the neck,” Pollanen testified.

Pollanen said Sheshiah failed to follow proper procedures when he examined Woolmer’s neck.

”Based on the evidence, I would exclude strangulation as the cause of death,” he said.

He added, however, that the hyoid bone doesn’t have to be fractured for strangulation to take place.

When asked if he would entirely rule out strangulation, he responded ”No.”

According to images shown at the inquest, Woolmer had injuries to the face and neck.

Pollanen agreed with Sheshiah that bleeding would be caused from the injuries.

”If there is bleeding in these areas, there would be a head injury, which may be caused from a fixed, hard surface,” he noted, adding that the injuries could have been the result of the face ”coming in contact with a hard surface”.

The inquest had previously heard that Woolmer was found with his head under the toilet bowl and that medical personal had to move him in order to attempt to revive him.

The inquest, presided over by Murphy and an 11-member jury, is to determine the cause of Woolmer’s death and whether anyone bears responsibility. – Sapa-AFP

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