'Our Family's Devastated. There's No Reason Bob Should Be Murdered' WIFE'S AGONY AS POLICE SAY COACH KNEW KILLER

The Mirror (London, England), March 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

'Our Family's Devastated. There's No Reason Bob Should Be Murdered' WIFE'S AGONY AS POLICE SAY COACH KNEW KILLER


Byline: By MARTIN FRICKER and JEFF EDWARDS

THE grieving family of murdered cricket legend Bob Woolmer told of their bafflement at his mystery death last night.

Widow Gill and sons Russell and Dale spoke out as police became increasingly convinced that Woolmer was killed by a person or persons he knew - possibly by mistake.

It is believed the 58-year-old Pakistani coach and former England star may have been drugged before being strangled.

It is also feared he was murdered to prevent him publishing a book lifting the lid on cricket match-fixing. A report suggested a manuscript was missing from the hotel room where he was killed.

"Devastated" Gill and her sons said in a statement from their home in Cape Town, South Africa: "This is very difficult for the family to come to terms with, and they have no idea why this happened.

"To the best of the family's knowledge there is absolutely nothing to suggest Bob was involved in match fixing.

"There is nothing in any book Bob has written which would explain this situation and there were no threats received.

"Bob was a wonderful husband and father and a great cricket coach. He gave his life to the service of cricket and cricketers, and endeared himself to anyone who came into contact with him."

Woolmer was strangled with bare hands on Sunday night in his 12th floor room at the Hotel Pegasus in Kingston, Jamaica, after Pakistan crashed to World Cup defeat against minnows Ireland.

Detectives last night were urgently checking his laptop computer, concentrating on a number of emails Woolmer sent in the hours leading up to his death.

They have also ordered toxicology tests to be carried out on his body.

A senior source in the Jamaica police said yesterday: "We believe Bob was killed by someone he knew. He either went to his room with them or he let them in.

"We don't believe the killer went there with the intention of murder.

"More likely, an argument broke out and the murderer gripped Bob by the throat and throttled him. It was probably a spontaneous act brought on by rage.

"Bob was a large, strong man so whoever attacked him must have been at least the same size and physically fit."

Potentially damning DNA evidence left by the killer has been found in Woolmer's suite. The insider said: "The killing may well have something to do with Pakistan's defeat in the World Cup which has upset a lot of people.

"Because of this we're asking for a DNA sample from every member of the Pakistan cricket party. They've all been interviewed about where they were at the time of the murder."

The entire party was staying at the Pegasus Hotel. They have now been told they are free to leave the Caribbean.

Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria was in the room next to Woolmer on the night of the killing. But he said: "I didn't hear any noises from his room. It was silent."

Bob was found unconscious by a chambermaid in his room on Sunday at around 10.45am. His last known communication was an email he sent to Gill at 3.12am.

Police will probe who had access to his room during that seven-hour window.

There were no signs of a struggle in his bedroom or of a forced entry.

The front door of his suite was secured by a hotel keycard. His belongings were apparently undisturbed.

Police suggested more than one person may have been involved in the murder.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields said: "Bob was a large man. It would have taken significant force to subdue him. …

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