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Novichok victim wakes from coma as police seize car

Toxic alert: Car is wrapped in plastic
by a team wearing gas masks PICTURE:SWNS

NOVICHOK victim Charlie Rowley regained consciousness yesterday, two days after his partner Dawn Sturgess died from the nerve agent.

Medics said he showed signs of a ‘small but significant’ improvement but was still ‘very unwell’. It came hours after a team in military camouflage and gas masks wrapped a car in plastic and removed it as part of the novichok murder inquiry.

It belongs to paramedic Keith Mills, who treated Ms Sturgess.

Conscious: Poison victim Charlie Rowley PICTURE: AFP

Neighbours described how the team descended on a cul-de-sac in Swindon – 40 miles from Salisbury – on Monday evening.

RAF Cpl Sarah Jones said: ‘I saw them shrink-wrapping the car but they said there wasn’t anything to worry about. It does worry me. I have two small children.’

Steve Morgan, 48, said the Audi belonged to Mr Mills (pictured). ‘There was concern that clothes might have been contaminated,’ he said. Mr Mills has declined to comment on the removal of his car.

The former RAF medic now works for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. In 2008 he was given a military honour for treating a soldier inside a helicopter while under enemy gunfire in Afghanistan. Wiltshire police said the public ‘should not be alarmed’ at the removal of the car. England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies urged people not to pick up objects that ‘could contain liquid or gel’.

Swindon is 33 miles from Amesbury, where Ms Sturgess, 44, and Mr Rowley, 45, fell ill 11 days ago. It came after ex-KGB agent Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in March. They have since recovered.

Police investigating the death of mum-of-three Ms Sturgess said the main line of inquiry is that she and Mr Rowley were exposed to novichok discarded by whoever poisoned the Skripals.

Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said: ‘I would love to be able to say that we have identified and caught the people responsible and how we are certain there are no traces of nerve agent left anywhere in Wiltshire. But the brutal reality is that I cannot offer you any reassurance or guarantee at this time.’

He added that, if novichok was sealed in a container in a landfill site, it would be safe but ‘it would last probably 50 years.’

Distillery apologises for ‘nerve agent’ vodka stunt

A DISTILLERY has apologised for producing a vodka named after novichok. Bristol Dry Gin was criticised for launching Novichok Edition (pictured) on Facebook on Saturday – the day before Dawn Sturgess died. One Facebook user said it was ‘in very poor taste’ and another described it as an ‘epic fail’.

The firm said it had been ‘in development for some time’ and was meant ‘to lighten the mood’. It said: ‘We sincerely apologise if any offence was caused, especially to the families of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley.’ The timing ‘may have lacked sensitivity,’ it said, and there are no plans to produce more.