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Friday 10th July 2020

How was Dawn Sturgess exposed to Novichok? Salisbury Poisonings tragedy revealed

Dawn lost her life in the Salisbury attack

Dawn Sturgess was the only person to die following the Salisbury Poisonings attack.

In total, four people were admitted into hospital after coming into contact with the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, DS Nick Bailey and Dawn's boyfriend Charlie Rowley were all treated in intensive care.

Sadly, she was exposed to ten times the amount of nerve agent than the others and so didn't survive.

But how did Dawn Sturgess come into contact with Novichok?

Here's everything you need to know...

Dawn Sturgess died following the Salisbury Poisonings attack (Credit: Shutterstock)

How was Dawn Sturgess exposed to Novichok?

British police believe the leftover Novichok used to poison Sergei Skripal was discarded in a perfume bottle.

This bottle was then found in a litter bin in Salisbury by Charlie.

He gave it to Dawn as a present.

Read more: Where is Tracy Daszkiewicz now? Salisbury poisonings hero's true story revealed

She then sprayed the perfume over her wrists and rubbed then together.

Just 15 minutes later, Dawn fell seriously ill.

Dawn is portrayed by MyAnna Buring in BBC drama The Salisbury Poisonings (Credit: BBC)

During an interview with the Guardian, Charlie said: "It was an oily substance and I smelled it and it didn’t smell of perfume. It felt oily.

"Within 15 minutes, Dawn said she had a headache. She asked me if I had any headache tablets. In that time she said she felt peculiar and needed to lie down in the bath.

Read more: How many people died in the Salisbury Poisonings attack and what is Novichok?

"I went into the bathroom and found her in the bath, fully clothed, in a very ill state."

After being rushed to hospital, Dawn tragically died on July 8, 2018.

Dawn is survived by three children (Credit: Shutterstock)

What happened to Charlie?

Charlie was rushed to hospital just hours after Dawn had been admitted.

He had developed the same symptoms as his partner and was in a critical condition.

Read more: What happened to DS Nick Bailey after the Salisbury poisonings?

Scientists later confirmed that he too had been poisoned with Novichok.

But Charlie hadn't been exposed as much to the deadly nerve agent as Dawn and managed to survive.

He regained consciousness two days after his partner passed away.

Read more: Is Sergei Skripal still alive and what happened to his daughter?

Charlie added: "I guess how I got in contact with it is when I put the spray part to the bottle. I ended up tipping some on my hands but I washed it off under the tap.

"I washed it off and I didn’t think anything of it. It all happened so quick."

Dawn lived yards away from the restaurant where Sergei Skripal dined before falling ill (Credit: BBC)

Who was Dawn Sturgess?

Dawn was a mother to three children – two sons and a daughter.

She had two jobs,  working as a flower picker in Cornwall and in a local pub.

Her parents, Stan and Caroline Sturgess, described her as a "gentle hippy" who was. a fan of visiting nearby Stonehenge.

Read more: Is Rafe Spall married and why do I recognise The Salisbury Poisonings actor?

They told the Guardian: "She was bubbly, intelligent, witty and very upbeat. She wanted everybody to be happy.

Dawn's story is being told in BBC drama The Salisbury Poisonings (credit: BBC)

"She would help everyone. She was very strong and very brave."

Dawn had struggled with alcohol addiction following her battle with post-natal depression.

However, her parents said that at the time of her death, she was "really turning a corner".

The 44-year-old was in a happy relationship with boyfriend Charlie and was about to move into her own flat.

She had been living in a homeless hotel just yards away from the Zizi restaurant where Sergei and his daughter ate before collapsing on a bench.

Did Dawn Sturgess take drugs?

Wiltshire Police believed that Dawn and Charlie fell ill after using heroin or crack cocaine.

The force thought their symptoms were triggered by a contaminated batch of drugs.

Read more: Who is Ross Cassidy and is he still friends with Sergei Skripal after the Salisbury poisonings?

However, it was later confirmed that the couple had been exposed to Novichok.

Following her death, Dawn's parents said she was unfairly portrayed as a drug user in the press.

Although she did have alcohol issues, they stressed she did not take drugs.

  • The Salisbury Poisonings continues on BBC One tonight at 9pm 

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