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How the ‘poisoned’ spy plot unfolded in Salisbury

Sunday 2.30pm: A seafood lunch that ended with a bust-up over the bill

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, 33, left his neat, red brick £350,000 semi detached in Salisbury and made their way to Zizzi in the city centre, less than two miles away.

The restaurant, in Castle Street, was busy when they arrived, but they declined the seats offered to them at the front, instead selecting ones at the back, close to the kitchen. 

They began with a starter of garlic bread to share followed by two glasses of white wine.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, lunched at the Italian restaurant Zizzi (inset left) on Castle Street in Salisbury. Less than two hours later they were taken to hospital after being found slumped on a park bench (above: the route the pair walked together)

They ordered from the menu, choosing the 600 calorie risotto pesce with king prawns, mussels and squid rings in a tomato, chilli and white wine sauce.

But within minutes Mr Skripal had become angry, a witness said. ‘I think he was swearing in Russian,’ said the man, who did not want to be named.

‘She was just sitting there quietly, and didn’t really say anything. They were both smartly dressed, she was in a black coat.

‘They were speaking to each other in Russian.’ 

He said Mr Skripal appeared annoyed that their main course had taken 20 minutes to arrive – and appeared in a hurry to leave. 

The pair are thought to be the couple above on CCTV holding hands before being found ‘looking homeless’ on the bench

The pair are thought to be the couple above on CCTV holding hands before being found ‘looking homeless’ on the bench

He was going absolutely crazy, I didn’t understand it and I couldn’t understand him.

‘They had not been seen for a little while by the front of house staff, but I think it was more than that. He just wanted his food and to go. He was just shouting and losing his temper. I would have asked him to leave. He just said “I want my food and my bill”. 

‘The waiter took him the bill at the same time as the main course, which was unusual. 

‘I don’t think they paid all of the bill. I think they were given a discount because he was so angry and agitated. He had to wait about 20 minutes for his main course.

‘I think it was easier for the staff just to give him money to leave as he was so angry.

‘They were sitting by themselves at the back of the restaurant but I think people were pleased when they left. 

‘They were only there for about 45 minutes. It was a quick lunch. He just wanted to get out of there. She was silent, perhaps embarrassed.’

He added: ‘He didn’t seem to have to wait long for his food. I noticed him first because they were sitting by themselves, and because he was an older man with a younger woman, and because he was losing his temper. 

‘He didn’t seem ill physically, but perhaps mentally ill with the way he was shouting. 

‘The witness said other than appearing angry, there was no sign that either of them were ill.

‘They weren’t poisoned at Zizzi. I saw the chef prepare the food,’ he said. 

‘No one could have sneaked in and added anything to his food there, the kitchen is open. The drinks are made at the bar which is by the door, but I think it is unlikely. No one could get to him.’

Their total food bill – for the risotto, garlic bread and wine, would have been £39.25, or £31.40 with a 20 per cent discount.

Skripal's daughter Yulia (above) was taken to hospital by air ambulance

Skripal’s daughter Yulia (above) was taken to hospital by air ambulance

3.47pm Older man and younger woman with red handbag spotted on CCTV holding hands

After paying by card Mr Skripal and his daughter left Zizzi. CCTV footage, from cameras at a gym, shows a couple walking briskly nearby – a man and a younger woman with blonde hair and a large red handbag.

Sixteen minutes later, personal trainer Freya Church, 27, came across the victims slumped on a bench. She said they seemed ‘out of it’ and assumed they were on drugs. ‘It was a young, blonde and pretty girl and it was definitely the man that’s been pictured in the news – the guy that’s a spy.

‘She was passed out and he was looking up to the sky and I tried to get eye contact to see if they were okay. ‘They didn’t seem with it. 

‘To be honest I thought they were just drugged out as they were in a weird state. There are lots of homeless people here so I just thought they were homeless.’ 

Skripal (above in court in Moscow) was taken to hospital by road after the shocking incident

Skripal (above in court in Moscow) was taken to hospital by road after the shocking incident

4.03pm White-faced and frothing at the mouth

Witness Jamie Paine told the BBC yesterday: ‘Her eyes were just completely white, they were wide open, but just white and she was frothing at the mouth. And then the man went stiff, his arms stopped moving and still looking dead straight.’

Georgia Pridham, 25, also saw the couple slumped on the bench. She said: ‘He was quite smartly dressed. He had his palms up to the sky as if he was shrugging and was staring at the building in front of him. He had a woman sat next to him on the bench who was slumped on his shoulder.’

She added: ‘He was staring dead straight. He was conscious but it was like he was frozen and slightly rocking back and forward.’

Two police officers helped the pair before emergency services were called at 4.15pm.

Graham Mulcock said: ‘The paramedics seemed to be struggling to keep the two people conscious. The man was sitting staring into space in a catatonic state.’

 This map shows the fateful journey made by Skripal and his daughter before they were found

 This map shows the fateful journey made by Skripal and his daughter before they were found

Destiny Reynolds, 20, who works in Ganesha Handicrafts in the centre, said: ‘I saw quite a lot of commotion – there were two people sat on the bench and there was a security guard there.

‘They put her on the ground in the recovery position, and she was shaking like she was having a seizure. It was a bit manic. There were a lot of people crowded round them. It was raining, people had umbrellas and were putting them over them.’

An air ambulance landed on a nearby shopping centre car park and Miss Skripal was taken to hospital while her father was taken by road.

But it was not until the next day, when hospital staff discovered their identity – and his links to Russia’s secret services – that a major incident was declared.

The A&E department at Salisbury District Hospital was closed, while two incident response unit ambulances and the fire service were called to the hospital to treat the patients and decontaminate the department.

Zizzi restaurant was also closed and police took away the table and chairs they were sitting at, examined the kitchen and food and interviewed staff.

A pub, The Mill, in The Maltings, where Mr Skripal and his daughter are believed to have had a drink on Sunday, was also sealed off and remained so last night.

The popular city centre pub, currently part way through its ‘British pie week’ was being searched while a single police officer stood guard at the entrance.