Ross Sheil, Staff Reporter
THE BODY of murdered Pakistan cricket team coach, Bob Woolmer, was yesterday ordered by Coroner Patrick Murphy released to his family in Cape Town, South Africa.
This follows the decision taken last Wednesday to indefinitely postpone the inquest into Woolmer's death, originally scheduled to begin yesterday, amid concerns that police resources could be stretched with the semi-final between New Zealand and Sri Lanka being played today at Sabina Park. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mark Shields had also written to the coroner expressing concerns that information revealed in the inquest could damage the ongoing investigation.
Family in South Africa
The body of the 58-year-old former England international cricketer had been in limbo for over a month with the coroner ordering that it could not be released until after an inquest had taken place. However, last week's postponement of the inquest may have paved the way for his body to be released.
DCP Mark Shields was called to the Coroner's Court yesterday morning where the coroner informed him that he had given orders for the body to be repatriated. The former Scotland Yard detective, who has been liaising with Woolmer's wife, Gill, has since taken personal responsibility for arrangements.
Yesterday Woolmer's body remained in storage at Roman's Funeral Home, on Dunrobin Avenue, Kingston, where it had been embalmed.
Woolmer was found unconscious in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on the morning of March 18. He was pronounced dead soon after. His team had been knocked out of Cricket World Cup 2007 after a surprise loss to Ireland in the group stage at Sabina Park a day earlier.
Fully booked yesterday and today, including both team parties, the Jamaica Pegasus has taken extra security measures for the semi-final with extra uniformed and plain-clothes police on hand. There was also a significant police and army presence at Sabina Park during the teams' practice sessions yesterday.
Groundsmen continued to work through the day preparing for the biggest match ever hosted at Sabina Park, the home of Jamaican cricket.
Though the West Indies will not be playing, Head Groundsman Charlie Josephs said there will be no dent to the pride he will be feeling, in his 50th year employed to the Kingston Cricket Club (KCC), when New Zealand and Sri Lanka take the pitch at 9:30 a.m.
Sabina Park, reasoned the 63-year-old, did well for the West Indies in the tournament, hosting their clean sweep of three victories in the group stage before being knocked out in the 'Super Eights'.
"I'm so proud that I can see the World Cup being played here in Jamaica without any problems and I just pray to the Good Lord that we don't get any rain!" he said, looking up at the overcast morning sky; the pitch already soft underfoot from recent rainfall. "It means a lot to me, this is my work and whatever I achieve is from the cricket. I'm glad to be working for the KCC."