Family tribute to veteran who died after taking drink laced with cocaine by mistake (From Daily Echo)
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Police continue probe into death of Royal navy veteran Joromie Lewis who drank pear juice laced with lethal amount of cocaine
6:33am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
A DEVOTED family man died just hours after swigging from a bottle of pear fruit drink laced with a lethal amount of cocaine.
Last night Joromie Lewis’ grieving family paid tribute to the former Royal Navy veteran, praising his selfless attitude and exemplary conduct.
It is understood he was helping friends in Southampton before heading home to celebrate his daughter’s third birthday when he was taken ill.
He is thought to have been poisoned by a rogue bottle from a consignment of drugs stored in plastic containers.
But his death has sparked a nationwide alert amid fears that other bottles of the deadly drink could be lurking in shops.
The Foods Standards Agency is urging stores across the UK to scour their shelves and remove any Cole Cold Pear-D fruit drink.
Police are investigating the death of Mr Lewis, 33, of Kings Road, Gosport.
A spokesman said the delivery driver was taken ill immediately after drinking the liquid at his employer’s lock-up in Bitterne.
He was taken to Southampton General Hospital but died just hours later.
The police spokesman added: “It appears that Mr Lewis ingested a small amount of liquid in the belief he was drinking a genuine pear drink.
“A post-mortem examination was carried out on December 7 but the results were inconclusive.
“On Wednesday police received laboratory test results which showed that the liquid in the juice bottle contained a lethal amount of cocaine.
“Police have established that the bottle of Cole Cold Pear-D fruit drink was manufactured in the Caribbean and the company did not export this drink to the UK.
“The Food Standards Agency has issued an alert to all local authorities to contact retailers to withdraw any Pear-D.”
Detective Superintendent Richard Pearson is leading the police investigation, codenamed Operation Crab.
He said: “We are working closely with partner agencies, including Southampton’s regulatory services, Public Health England, the Food Standards Agency and other law enforcement agencies, including the National Crime Agency, to minimise any risk to the public and to investigate the circumstances leading to the tragic death of Mr Lewis.
“We are supporting his family and linking closely with public health departments.
“We have taken clear advice from partner agencies and, in light of the analysis of the contents of the bottle, a decision was made to issue the public alert by the Food Standards Agency.
“Inquiries to date have not identified any further incidents or similar bottles.
“The investigation suggests that this was likely to be a rogue bottle from a consignment of drugs stored in plastic juice bottles.
“Anyone who finds a bottle of Pear-D juice should take it to the nearest police station and we will examine the contents if appropriate.”
Mr Lewis was originally from the island of St Vincent in the Caribbean.
Last night his grieving widow Jayrusha said: “He was a devoted, family-orientated man with a selfless attitude to help others and always knew the right words and advice to give.
“His exemplary conduct and actions touched the lives and hearts of many.”
Mr Lewis was a member of Bridgemary Family Church, formerly Jacob’s Well Family Church.
He had joined the church three years ago, shortly after the birth of his daughter.
Pastor David Price, who was at the hospital when Mr Lewis died, said: “He was a giant. He had a big heart and was so helpful.
Some would say he was unreasonably helpful because he just went out of his way all the time to help people.
“He did anything if you asked him to do it, whether he’d done it before or not, and he was a lovely family man.
“He was always very positive and always pleased to see people.
He’d give you a warm handshake.
“He was much loved within the church and his own community as well.”
Pastor Price will be conducting his funeral in the coming weeks.
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