Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cocaine pear juice death: Joromie Lewis 'wholly innocent'

Joromie Lewis
Image caption Joromie Lewis found the bottle in a warehouse, say police

A man who died after drinking a Caribbean pear juice drink laced with cocaine was "wholly innocent", police have said.

Detectives said Joromie Lewis, 33 worked for the company that imported the drink and had picked the bottle off a warehouse floor last Thursday.

He fell ill and died in hospital shortly afterwards.

Laboratory analysis showed the bottle of Cold Cole Pear-D contained a lethal amount of cocaine.

Hampshire Police said the bottle was part of a consignment brought into the country by the import-export company that employed Mr Lewis.

'Sinister manner'

It was part of an order placed by a third party, police said.

Supt James Fulton said: "It is something which is known as a method that drug-smugglers will use as a way of bypassing border checks.

"Tragically, it has gone horribly wrong when Mr Lewis has wholly innocently had a drink from this bottle."

Mr Lewis, a Royal Navy veteran, lived in Gosport, Hampshire and came originally from St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Image caption Laboratory analysis showed the pear juice contained a lethal amount of cocaine

Pastor David Price of Bridgemary Family Church, which Mr Lewis attended, described him as "an amazing guy"

"There are not many guys like him. He'd help anyone, day or night, he was just wonderful.

"He always had a smile and time for people. He was anti-drugs, anti-drink, anti-gambling," the pastor added.

Cole Cold Pear-D is manufactured in the Caribbean by a company that does not export it to the UK for sale in shops.

Manufacturers SM Jaleel & Co Ltd said: "We can only assume that the product entered the United Kingdom through irregular and unauthorized means and is therefore considered contraband.

"As a company we are shocked and saddened to see our product abused and used in such a sinister manner."

It said it had now recalled from across Trinidad & Tobago all bottles from the batch containing the code BB JAN 08 14, from which the contaminated bottle came, as "a precautionary measure".

On Thursday the Food Standards Agency issued an alert for shops to withdraw the drink if they find it.

The agency said investigations were continuing to find out whether more bottles of the product had been distributed in the UK.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr Lewis's body on Saturday, but the results were inconclusive and further tests are being carried out.

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