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Mystery over drink’s origin

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Pear-D case runs cold for UK cops

The Hampshire Constabulary says the cocaine-laced Pear D drink that claimed the life of UK Royal Navy veteran Joromie Lewis last week, was part of a shipment of drinks destined for London. However, the sender of the shipment and its intended receiver are still to be ascertained by investigators. Lewis, 33, of Gosport and originally from St Vincent and the Grenadines, died on December 5. He had consumed a small amount of liquid in a Cold Cole Pear-D bottle in Southampton. 



The liquid he drank was actually liquefied cocaine and not soft drink. Yesterday, Ian Sainsbury, corporate communications officer (Western Area) at the Southampton Central Police Station, in an telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, said investigations had found that the Pear-D drink linked to Lewis’s death was part of a London-bound shipment. However, he said it was unclear how a Pear-D drink ended up in the shipment at Lewis’s workplace, an import/export warehouse, since they do not handle the product.


“The bottles that were going to London were not Pear-D bottles. We do not know how that bottle got into the warehouse, but it had to have been in there at some stage as some sort of shipment,” Sainsbury said. He said police suggested that the shipment was probably headed to West Indian stores in London.



West Indian focus

Food Standards Agency (FSA) enforcement officers have since turned their attention to UK stores selling West Indian products in their bid to retrieve any contraband Cold Cole Pear-D drinks that may be tainted with cocaine. An FSA spokesman in London, speaking with the T&T Guardian by telephone yesterday, said they had not found any of the product at West Indian stores in London.


“There have not been any more cases of illness or any deaths reported either. We are still asking for officers to carry on looking for the products as part of their monitoring,” he said. Since Lewis’s death, the FSA has placed an alert on Pear-D, a locally manufactured drink, in the UK. Local manufacturer SM Jaleel also locally recalled drinks from the batch containing the best-before code, “BB JAN 08 14,” which was the date on the bottle that Lewis drank from. 


The company pointed out that the brand also was not exported to the UK and would have got there through some other means.



No suspects in death

Sainsbury said yesterday that to date no suspects had been held in Lewis’s death. He said a number of people, including Lewis’s employer and co-workers, were interviewed and cleared of wrong doing. “We are happy that there is nothing untoward going on there They are continuing their work. The warehouse (where Lewis worked) has not been shut down. We have had a look there and also looked at the people who worked there,” he said.


He added that it was the warehouse employees who alerted the police to problem when Lewis became ill. He said the cocaine-laced drink or drinks was probably brought into the country to ultimately go to someone specifically, and was to be dropped off at some point to them. Sainsbury admitted that this was the first case the constabulary came across in which a man had died after consuming a cocaine-laced drink. 


He said since Lewis’s death the police had received tips and calls from members of the public which officers had been following up. However, he said thus far the tips had not led to any arrest nor had any more drinks been retrieved.


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