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Inquest hears of blood, vomit in Woolmer death

October 17, 2007 10:19 IST

A Jamaican chambermaid said on Tuesday she found a bloodied bed, an overturned chair and a smell like alcohol and vomit when she stumbled on former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer's unconscious body in his Kingston hotel room earlier this year.

Chambermaid Bernice Robinson, the first witness to testify as a long-awaited inquest opened into Woolmer's startling death during the Cricket World Cup, said his body lay blocking the bathroom door of room 374 at the Pegasus hotel, one of his feet stretched up to the wash basin.

"I started to look around the room, and I noticed that there was a chair that was overturned," she said.

"There was blood on the pillow and the bed. I continued looking around the room and didn't see him. And then I went into the bathroom. The door was closed, I knocked, got no response, then I tried to open the door but I couldn't open it as something was pressing against it."

Robinson said she panicked and shouted, "Sir, sir, is everything OK?" before running for help. She recalled a smell "like vomit and alcohol mixed together" and saw vomit on the bathroom floor.

Her discovery of Woolmer's unconscious body on March 18, a day after Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup following an ignominious defeat by underdogs Ireland, kicked off a maelstrom that gripped the international cricket world for months.

Jamaican police initially said Woolmer was strangled and launched a murder investigation. That touched off frenzied media speculation that the former English international player, 58, might have been killed by a gambling syndicate or disgruntled Pakistani fans or players.

But the Jamaican police delivered another shock in June by saying they had made a mistake about the murder claim and that pathologists from Canada, Britain and South Africa had found Woolmer died of natural causes.

Dr. Nathaniel Carey, a British pathologist who examined the autopsy report confirmed that view.

"Based on the photographs that I saw, and the histology results, I came to that conclusion," he said. "Mr. Woolmer had a heart condition and he had diabetes, plus he was found behind a door as if he had suffered an attack."

However, the pathologist said it was possible someone had been with Woolmer around the time of his death.

"Would you agree with me there could have been a third party in Mr. Woolmer's room at the time of his death," Director of Public Prosecutions Kent Pantry asked Carey.

"Yes, there could have been," Carey replied.

Coroner Patrick Murphy, who is presiding over the inquest, took careful notes during the testimony and told a jury of six women and five men the inquest would probably last until Nov. 9. He said it would be up to them to decide Woolmer's cause of death.

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