Woolmer inquest fails to find cause of death

By Howard Campbell

KINGSTON - An inquest into the death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer ended in indecision today, when a Jamaican jury was unable to determine the cause of death after hearing testimony from more than 50 people over five weeks.

The 11-member panel deliberated for about four hours before returning an "open" verdict, which means jurors decided they had not heard sufficient evidence to declare Bob Woolmer's death an accident, a homicide or the result of natural causes.

The jury foreman, who refused to give his name to reporters, said the panel felt there were too many contradictions to reach a clear conclusion.

"We came to an open verdict because the evidence presented to us was very weak. There were too many what-ifs and too many loopholes," he said.

According to police it now will be up to Jamaica's coroner, Patrick Murphy, to decide the cause of death.

The inquest was triggered by wide-ranging speculation about what killed the 58-year-old coach.

Woolmer was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room March 18, a day after Pakistan was eliminated from the Cricket World Cup in an upset loss to Ireland. Four days later, a government pathologist ruled he had been strangled, launching a globe-spanning probe.

In an embarrassing reversal, Jamaican police announced nearly three months after launching the probe that Woolmer was not the victim of foul play, saying three independent pathologists from Britain, South Africa and Canada concluded the coach died from natural causes, most likely heart disease.

In his testimony at the inquest, Jamaica's pathologist, Dr. Ere Sheshiah, stood by his contention that Woolmer had been strangled and said he had also been poisoned by a pesticide.

Specialists outside the government said Sheshiah misinterpreted his own findings and his medical techniques did not meet international standards. Independent tests on Woolmer's stomach samples found no traces of the pesticide.

- AP

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