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Woolmer suspect caught on camera
Cahal Milmo

London, April 21
A suspect in the murder of the Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer has been identified from security camera footage in his hotel, amid growing evidence that the former England player was drugged with an ancient poison.

After three weeks with little apparent progress, investigators in Jamaica announced yesterday that there were “significant developments” in the hunt for Woolmer’s killer or killers.

The opening of an inquest into the coach’s death, due to take place on Monday, was postponed after a series of breakthroughs by the team of 30 officers working on the inquiry, including detectives from Scotland Yard.

The Independent has been told that digital enhancement by the Yard of CCTV footage from cameras on the 12th floor of the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, where Woolmer was staying, has identified at least one suspect in the killing. A source close to the investigation said: “The cleaned-up images from London show at least one individual of considerable interest to the inquiry.

“The time of the footage and its location mean that this individual must be considered a suspect. Further work is being done on statements given by individuals to look at any inconsistencies. It is good progress.”

The police declined to comment on the identity of the suspect, understood to be male, or say whether he is a member of the Pakistan team or management. In a statement, the Justice Ministry in Jamaica said the inquest, at which more than 20 witnesses were due to give evidence, had been postponed because of rapid progress in the investigation.

A spokesman said: “The coroner has been advised that there are recent and significant developments concerning the death of Woolmer. The coroner wishes that these new and significant developments be pursued with the utmost urgency, taking into account that the officer in charge has advised that these new developments are critical to the progress and the eventual results of the investigations themselves.”

Woolmer, who was 58, died on March 17, the night after Pakistan’s exit from the World Cup at the hands of Ireland. The death of Woolmer, who had already decided to resign his role, came amid claims that the former Kent and England player had fallen foul of a match-fixing syndicate he was about to expose.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields, the former Yard officer who is leading the Jamaican police investigation, confirmed last week that he expected officers from his team to travel to Pakistan to re-interview members of the Pakistan squad to clear up “ambiguities” in witness statements. It is understood those they want to talk to include Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. There is no suggestion they are to be questioned as suspects.

The lead from the CCTV cameras - which were at either end of the secure floor of the Pegasus Hotel containing Woolmer’s room, number 374 — coincided with renewed suggestions that the coach was given aconite, a powerful poison derived from the plant wolfsbane. The father-of-two, whose embalmed body remains in Kingston awaiting release, was found early on 18 March, lying naked in the bathroom of his hotel room with traces of vomit on the floor. A post-mortem examination found he had a broken bone in his neck, suggesting he was strangled. Toxicology tests last week found traces of a poison in Woolmer’s stomach, urine and blood, showing he was incapacitated before being asphyxiated.

The Sun reported yesterday that the poison was aconite and may have been given in a sufficient dose to kill Woolmer outright, and that the neck injury may have been caused by a fall as he collapsed.

Aconite, which is used in herbal medicine across Asia, causes an agonising death as it shuts down internal organs and causes loss of sensation in the limbs. One of the first symptoms is vomiting. It is notoriously difficult to trace after death.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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