Woolmer was very ill, lead investigator tells inquest

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KINGSTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) The police officer who led Jamaica's investigation into the death of late Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer told an inquest today that in his view Woolmer died because he was ill.

Deputy police commissioner Mark Shields, a former member of Britain's Scotland Yard, told coroner Patrick Murphy and an 11-member jury that based upon his investigations, he was convinced that Woolmer was not strangled.

''After considering all the evidence, having dialogue and consultation with my colleagues and looking around at Mr Woolmer's room, it was clear to me that Mr Woolmer was very sick and died of complications,'' Shields said.

Shields was giving testimony for a third successive day on Friday, as the official Jamaican inquest into the death that stunned the international cricket world crawls to an end.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room on March 18, a day after Pakistan were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup following an upset loss to Ireland. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after.

Police started a murder investigation days later after it was revealed that an autopsy found that he died of strangulation.

That investigation ended abruptly on June 12 after three independent pathologists said they were of the view that Woolmer had died of natural causes, possibly a heart attack.

The pathologist who performed the first autopsy on Woolmer, Ere Shesiah, chief consultant pathologist of the Jamaican government, has told the inquest that he stood by his conclusion that the Englishman was strangled, and also poisoned with a pesticide.

Shields, who was recruited by the Jamaican police force two years ago to help solve spiralling crime, said that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone else was in Woolmer's room the day before or on the day he died.

''Our investigations were exhaustive and thorough and at the end of it, we believe that Mr Woolmer was not strangled,'' Shields said.

The inquest, now in its 23rd day, had been due to end on November 9, but was extended by at least a week.

Reuters RAR RS2334

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