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Special health measure for novichok victim’s funeral



Special health measures are in place to protect mourners at the funeral of the Amesbury novichok victim Dawn Sturgess.

There will be no pallbearers at the mother-of-three’s cremation in Salisbury on Monday.

The coffin will already be in place when mourners arrive and they will be asked to keep their distance.

Public Health England has issued advice to prevent mourners from being exposed to the deadly nerve agent that led to her death.

Philip Bromiley, the vicar of Salisbury Diocese, told Sky News on Sunday: “I have absolute confidence in Public Health England and also the funeral directors.

“They have been doing a lot of work, they have put various measures in place to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.

“The coffin will be in situ when we arrive.

“The family will have 15 minutes of quiet with Dawn’s coffin.

“As far as I am aware there will be no pallbearers there.”

Ms Sturgess’ boyfriend Charlie Rowley, who was exposed to novichok, told Sky News: “I think she deserves everything, she deserves a lot more.

“A lot more, a lot better.”

He added that he hopes saying goodbye to Ms Sturgess will help in his recovery.

Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess were found unconscious on Saturday 30 June, with police later confirming that they had been exposed to novichok.

Charlie Rowley has said paid tribute to the girlfriend he "loved to bits"
Charlie Rowley has said paid tribute to the mother-of-three ahead of her funeral

Ms Sturgess died on 8 July whilst Mr Rowley was still in a critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital.

Mr Rowley said he recalled giving Ms Sturgess a sealed bottle containing the deadly nerve agent, thinking it was perfume.

She went on to spray it on her wrists before they both fell ill in Mr Rowley’s home in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

The 45-year-old said he could not remember where he found the perfume box but added that it “looked expensive”.

Paying tribute to Ms Sturgess, he told Sky News: “(She was) a really lovely person, loving, caring for anyone kind of girl.

He added: “I just loved her to bits, she was a lovely person and she had a lot of friends who cared for her.

“She’ll be missed by lots.”

Mr Rowley, who was joined by his brother Mathew during the Sky News interview, added he is “very cross, very angry” about the poisoning.

He later revealed he is still on “various medications” as he recovers from the ordeal.

Mr Rowley said he has no recollection of falling ill after exposure to the substance, and that it was “a lot to take in” when he emerged from his coma.

Charlie Rowley, right, was joined by his brother Matthew for the Sky News interview
Charlie Rowley, right, was joined by his brother Matthew for the Sky News interview

He added: “I remember speaking to my doctor, him telling me what had actually happened and that I’d been poisoned by a substance and that my partner had unfortunately passed.

“It was just very hard to deal with.”

He went on to thank the specialists who treated him and said: “I’m very grateful for the staff, they worked very well.”

The couple fell ill more than three months after the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury.

The UK government has maintained that Moscow was behind the attack on 4 March.

Asked if he is helping with the ongoing police investigation, he said: “As much as can be done.”

Matthew added: “It’s very scary thinking that a kid could walk around and pick up one of these bottles.

“That’s the scary thing, let alone what’s happened to Dawn as well.”

Police were reported to have identified the suspected perpetrators of the attack on the Skripals, only for the security minister Ben Wallace to dismiss the claims as “wild speculation”.

Officers had started investigating on 14 July as to whether Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess had been poisoned with the same batch.

Mr Rowley has said he “hope something comes of it” in relation to the wider investigation.

He added: “At least something’s being done, at least there’s progress, that’s the main thing.”

Mr Rowley and his brother had not seen each other for around two years but have been reunited because of the tragedy.

Matthew, who described the people who left the novichok lying around as “monsters”, said: “To anybody out there just be careful not pick something up, it’s a possibility it could happen again.”

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