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From the outset of the Bob Woolmer investigation, which started on March 18, when the former Pakistani Cricket coach was found in his hotel room and officially pronounced dead at the University Hospital of the West Indies, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) adopted a policy of being open, transparent and forthright in providing information to the point where some have actually criticised the JCF for providing too much information.
As a responsible and professional organisation, we have not responded to the many rumours in the media and elsewhere.
Instead, we have given information based on our analysis, and the work of professionals, from pathologists, forensic experts and police officers.
We could not have disclosed all of the information we had gathered throughout the investigation. At times, we had to be circumspect in what was placed in the public domain in order not to jeopardise the investigation or any subsequent judicial proceedings. From the first statement issued on March 18, we have consistently communicated that the enquiry into the death of Bob Woolmer was an open investigation that would seek the truth and establish the circumstances and cause of his death. Effectively, based on the information we had from the pathologist, Dr. Ere Seshaiah and other experts nothing would be ruled out. When the pathologist told us that the autopsy results were inconclusive, we said so and that he required further histology and toxicology tests be done.
When that status changed to death due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation, the JCF treated his death as a case of murder. This opinion was only made public when the JCF had in its possession, a written report provided by the pathologist.
As soon as it was made known to us that it was the pathologist’s opinion that Bob Woolmer had been strangled, we established a major investigation incident room.
During the course of the enquiry nearly four hundred people (400) were interviewed and two hundred and fifty (250) statements were taken.
In addition, for elimination purposes photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples were voluntarily obtained from people who had been at the hotel around the time of Bob Woolmer’s death, including members of the Pakistan, Zimbabwe, West Indies and Ireland cricket teams.
The investigation team’s strategy was based on the assumption that if Bob Woolmer was murdered it was critical to identify, locate and interview as many people who were closest to him at the time of his death.
Accordingly, after meeting with as many potential witnesses as possible in Jamaica, officers from the JCF travelled to Grenada and Barbados to complete this process. Throughout this process the JCF treated all players, management and other officials with dignity and respect. The investigation team was particularly sensitive to the needs of the Pakistan team who were obviously shocked by the sudden death of their coach.
In an effort to ensure that the investigation was on track, a request was made for the Metropolitan Police Service in London to deploy a murder review team to take a critical look at the investigation and provide recommendations.
On Monday 2nd April 2007, just two-weeks after the investigation commenced, four members of the MPS travelled to Kingston to begin a review of the investigation.
In addition to the request for the MPS to conduct a review, because of the specific interest of the Pakistan Government and its national cricket team, the Minister of National Security extended an invitation to Pakistan to deploy police officers to work alongside the JCF team.
Accordingly, two senior Pakistan police officers travelled to Kingston to observe the progress of the enquiry and provide assistance where possible.
On Friday 13th April 2007 the MPS review team provided the JCF with a report containing recommendations. The report commended the investigation team for their professionalism and thoroughness in the conduct of the investigation.
The senior Pakistan Police officer Zubair Mahmood attended a press briefing before he left Jamaica and commended the JCF’s thorough investigation and expressed his confidence in the enquiry.
Although the professional opinion of the pathologist was that the cause of Woolmer’s death was asphyxia and secondary manual strangulation, the investigation team continued to keep an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding his death.
It was decided that in view of the opinion that Bob Woolmer was strangled and because there had not been a second post mortem at the time, to seek the views of a second pathologist, the MPS review team recommended Dr. Nat Cary, a leading consultant pathologist in the United Kingdom.
Despite the absence of a second post mortem an excellent digital photographic record had been secured of the body prior to and during post mortem. The investigation team compiled a package of all the information, photographs and results of forensic tests that had been conducted at the Government of Jamaica Forensic Lab.
This package was taken to Dr. Cary whose opinion was that Bob Woolmer had not been manually strangled but died of natural causes.
Because of the opposing views of the pathologists, the decision was made to seek independent verification from other eminent pathologists.
We then engaged the services of Professor Lorna Martin, Chief Specialist for Forensic Pathology Services for the Western Cape, South Africa, and Dr Michael Pollanen, the Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario, Canada.
The reports provided by Professor Martin and Doctor Pollanen both concur with Dr. Cary’s view that Mr. Woolmer died of natural causes.
In addition to the provision of the three independent views of the pathologists, we also said that we would await the outcome of toxicology tests. The toxicology tests have now been completed and no substance was found to indicate that Bob Woolmer was poisoned or in any other way incapacitated.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force accepts these findings and has now closed its investigation into the death of Mr. Bob Woolmer.
The JCF is in the process of submitting a final report to the Coroner, Mr. Patrick Murphy because ultimately it will be his office that will determine the cause of Bob Woolmer’s death. The JCF has provided him with a comprehensive investigation to assist him in his deliberations.
We have always stated that the JCF would conduct a thorough and far-reaching investigation to seek the truth. We also stated that wherever necessary we would seek the support of others.
The early request for a review to be conducted by the MPS and the invitation to the Pakistan Police are all indications that the JCF fulfilled its commitment to keep an open mind, conduct an open and transparent investigation and avoid the dangers of unhelpful speculation.
You are no doubt aware that throughout the investigation there were rumours and allegations that match fixing and corruption within the international cricket scene was the motive behind Woolmer’s tragic death. The International Cricket Council’s Anti-corruption team has worked alongside the JCF for the duration of this investigation. Every aspect of illegal betting, match fixing and other corrupt practices in relation to international cricket has been examined.
We can state after this thorough investigation that neither the ICC nor the JCF has found any evidence at all of any impropriety by players, match officials or management during the investigation of Mr. Woolmer’s death.
I have already mentioned the huge number of people who have helped the JCF with the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their cooperation and assistance.
I would like to especially thank the Pakistan cricket team who at the time of the investigation was under immense pressure and grieving the loss of their cricket coach.
The whole team and management were treated with sensitivity and respect throughout the investigation and it is to their credit that we were able to complete all of the interviews that were required, with their full cooperation before they left Jamaica.
Indeed, I would like to thank all of the other teams, match officials, supporters and everyone else linked to the game of cricket for the tremendous support they gave to the investigation.
My thanks to the members of the International Cricket Council and ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007 Incorporated for their support, especially those members from the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit who worked with us throughout.
I would like to thank the international law enforcement agencies who also assisted in one way or another with this investigation. The nature of this enquiry was such that many potentially critical witnesses left Jamaica soon after the investigation commenced. The JCF received excellent cooperation from our international partners and I wish to thank them.
I end this statement by repeating my earlier comments that the Jamaica Constabulary Force conducted a thoroughly professional investigation where nothing was left to chance or assumption.
Every effort has been made by the Jamaica Constabulary Force to seek the truth surrounding the circumstances of Bob Woolmer’s death and bring the facts to his widow and family.
On behalf of the JCF and all those involved in the investigation, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Gill Woolmer and her family. My hope is that despite the trauma that the last two and a half months have brought to them, Mrs Woolmer and her sons will be confident that the JCF has done all it can to establish the truth surrounding the circumstances of the death of her husband and she may now be able to find some closure.