July 15 (UPI) — British police found a small container of Novichok in the home of one of two people poisoned by the nerve agent June 30 and are investigating whether the poison is from the same batch that sickened a former Moscow double agent and his adult daughter this year.
Police said the bottle was found in the home of Charlie Rowley, 45, in Amesbury, England.
Rowley and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, were both exposed to the nerve agent, which killed Sturgess. Rowley regained consciousness and is speaking to investigators.
“This is clearly a significant and positive development,” said assistant commissioner Neil Basu, head of the national counterterrorism squad. “However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left, and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time.”
Officials said the highest concentration of Novichok was found on the couple’s hands, leading them to suspect they encountered the poison from handling some contaminated item.
Police did not give further details about the bottle, which was sent to a British government laboratory for testing.
Rowley’s home, where the couple were found unconscious, is about 10 miles from where Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who later went to work for the British government, and daughter Yulia were poisoned.
The Skripals were hospitalized for weeks but were ultimately discharged. Sergei Skripal has been an intelligence agent for both Russia and Britain, leading some to question whether the March attack was an act of retribution.
Scientists hope there will be enough of the nerve agent left in the bottle to see if it came from the same batch used in the Skripal attack.