Probe continues into rugby players’ deaths | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Probe continues into rugby players’ deaths

The police are still trying to determine the exact cause of the British rugby players mystery deaths, although it is suspected that it might be due to an overdose of a banned narcotic substance.

The British team of 22 rugby players including Thomas Howard (26) and Tom Baty (27) arrived in the country on the previous Thursday to take part in a couple of friendly matches. After the opening match at the CR & FC grounds on Saturday, the 22-member British team was hosted to dinner at the same venue in keeping with CR&FC tradition.

According to witness’ accounts, the players of the visiting team had left the party venue at around 10.00 pm. Later they returned to Kingsbury Hotel, where they were staying, before setting off again to patronize Cleopatra. The players were determined to have a good time in Colombo before they headed off to Galle for their next match.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the players retired to the Hotel in groups. The last to return were Howard and Baty. The next morning, the two players struggled with breathing difficulties. Their team mates found them, on the floor of their separate bed rooms, trying to catch their breath. The hotel management rushed the two of them to the Nawaloka hospital, the closest private hospital. Both had been unconscious at the time. According to the Judicial Medical Officer, at the time of admission on Sunday, Howard was already dead, while Baty who went into a coma later was pronounced dead on Tuesday. Baty was treated at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.

The autopsy performed by Additional Consultant Judicial Medical Officer of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Colombo Dr. M.N. Ruhul Haq into the mysterious deaths of the two players, did not reveal an exact cause of death. The JMO had observed, “The autopsy revealed no identifiable injuries or natural disease process to account for the deaths” and also “no obvious evidence of quarantinable or infectious disease,” he said.

Since the postmortem findings indicated a necessity for further investigation to establish an exact cause of death, the JMO had extracted samples of blood, urine, bile, stomach contents and tissues from organs of both players and sent them for analysis to the Government Analyst. 

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