State lab dismissed in Woolmer case

Updated: 17 November 2007 16:28 IST

The lead police investigator into the death of Pakistan's cricket coach said on Thursday he has no confidence in the state-run forensic lab.

Kingston:

The lead police investigator into the death of Pakistan's cricket coach said on Thursday he has no confidence in the state-run forensic lab that reported finding lethal amounts of a pesticide in Bob Woolmer's stomach.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields, testifying at the inquest into Woolmer's death, said the government's Forensic Science Laboratory is in need of vast upgrades after years of neglect.

"Its standard of equipment, procedure, processes and security are not anywhere near the level I'd like to see," Shields said.

Shields also questioned the findings of Fitzmore Coates, a senior forensic officer at the lab who detected lethal amounts of the pesticide cypermethrin in Woolmer's stomach and in urine and blood samples taken from the late coach.

"I'm not attacking his professionalism or integrity," Shields said. "I'm just saying he made a genuine error."

Independent tests recently completed on Woolmer's stomach samples found no traces of the potentially deadly cypermethrin, casting doubt on the earlier findings.

Shields, a former Scotland Yard detective who was testifying for a third day, said he was convinced no one else was in Woolmer's room and that the coach died of natural causes.

"Having considered all the evidence here and taking into account the review of every aspect of investigations by the Metropolitan Police's Murder Review team, I formed the view that Mr. Woolmer was not manually asphyxiated," he said.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious on the bathroom floor of his Kingston hotel room on March 18, a day after Pakistan lost to Ireland at the Cricket World Cup.

Jamaica's pathologist, Dr. Ere Sheshiah, maintains that Woolmer died of pesticide poisoning and asphyxia, but foreign experts concluded he died of natural causes, possibly heart disease.

Topics : Cricket Bob Woolmer
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