British rugby players’ sudden deaths trigger probe on Sri Lanka nightclub

ECONOMYNEXT – Two amateur British rugby players who died after what is suspected to be a drug overdose had visited a night club in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo shortly before they developed respiratory problems, investigators said Tuesday.

Police sources said the two men identified as Thomas Howard, 25, and Tom Baty, 26, had serious breathing difficulties on Sunday morning and admitted to the Colombo National Hospital where one of them was pronounced dead.

Baty was transferred to the private Nawaloka hospital where he too died on Tuesday afternoon  despite intensive care, officials said .

Detectives were investigating what the duo had been served at the night club amid reports that they may have ingested “brown sugar,” a variant of  heroin.

There was no immediate comment from the Cleopatra Night club which is operated at the basement of the Liberty Plaza building complex owned by Colombo Land and Development Limited.

Police said an autopsy on Howard revealed that he did not die due to any external injuries or any illness .  An open verdict has been given by the Judicial Medical Officer and further forensic tests have been ordered.

Initial investigations showed the two victims from the Durham City Rugby Football Club, along with their team mates, had played a friendly with the  Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club on Saturday.

After the match, they had visited the club and team members returned to their hotel in smaller groups by early Sunday.

The British High Commission (embassy) in Colombo said it was supporting the families of the two victims and were in contact with the local authorities.  The Durham City Rugby club in a message posted on its website said "the Howard and Baty families have requested that their right to privacy is respected."  (COLOMBO, May 15, 2018)





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