NOVICHOK survivor Charlie Rowley fears he will be dead within ten years.
The 45-year-old has revealed he is ‘terrified’ about the future as he struggles with his eyesight and mobility.
‘I’m still worried the Novichok could kill me if I get any sort of virus again — it’s on my mind all the time. I’m dreading getting a cold,’ he said.
It was in June that Mr Rowley picked up a Nina Ricci perfume bottle he found in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and gave it to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess at their home in nearby Amesbury.
She sprayed it on herself and he got it all over his hands trying to fit a spray cap on to the bottle.
Days later, Ms Sturgess, 44, was dead and he was seriously ill in hospital after police discovered the bottle contained the nerve agent used to poison ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.
Unemployed Mr Rowley was back in hospital in August suffering from blindness and lack of mobility. He was told he had meningitis. ‘I may be out of hospital but I don’t feel safe. I’m terrified about the future,’ he told the Sunday Mirror.
‘Doctors simply don’t know what the long-term effects could be. The worst thing has been the fear over my sight. I’m struggling to see properly and to walk.
‘I’m one of only a handful in the world to have survived Novichok, so it’s untrod territory. I feel like a guinea pig. I don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next.’
Mr Rowley says he came out of hospital too early the first time. ‘I remember losing all balance and suffering tunnel vision,’ he said. ‘Doctors told me I’d suffered numerous strokes and I needed heart treatment and a pacemaker. It’s all to do with the Novichok.’
He is angry he has felt suicidal but has had no support. ‘The system is flawed,’ he said. ‘I need counselling. If the authorities offered me help I would take it. I feel let down. I don’t think I’ll be alive in ten years.’
Britain has accused Russia of poisoning the Skripals and Det Sgt Nick Bailey as well as the death of Ms Sturgess and the poisoning of Mr Rowley.
It is believed the perfume bottle was discarded by GRU agents named as Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov by the government but later identifed by investigative news site Bellingcat as Anatoliy Chepiga and Aleksandr Yevgenyevich Mishkin.