Heroin killed British rugby players in Sri Lanka

Court Decision

Two English amateur rugby players had taken heroin just before their deaths while in Sri Lanka, a court was told Friday as it ordered the arrest of those responsible for selling the narcotics.

Concluding inquests into the deaths, Colombo Fort magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ruled that Thomas Howard, 25, died from heroin poisoning while Tom Baty,26, overdosed.

Police had previously told the court that the duo had been sold highly contaminated heroin after they visited a night club in Colombo during a tour of the country in May. Both developed breathing difficulties after their night out.

Howard died after admission to hospital while Baty died two days later.

A judicial medical officer had told the court there were no external injuries on the bodies nor did they suffer any illnesses. “The deaths are not due to any criminal activity, but I order the police to arrest those responsible for selling drugs to them,” Jayaratne said.

She also ordered death certificates to be issued to the families of the two players through the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in London. The duo from Durham City rugby club in northeast England had played a friendly against the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club the day before they were taken ill.