News24

University don held over colleague's death

2012-01-13 16:02

London - British police questioned an Oxford University lecturer of Indian origin on Friday over the death of a colleague, officials said, in a case with echoes of fictional detective Inspector Morse.

Astrophysics professor Steven Rawlings, a fellow of the famed university's St Peter's College, was found dead at a home in the Oxford suburb of Southmoor on Wednesday, police said.

Paramedics were called to the scene after reports that a man had been injured but a post-mortem examination carried out on Thursday on the 50-year-old was unable to establish a cause of death and further tests will be conducted.

Oxford mathematics lecturer Devinder Sivia, 49, who teaches at St John's College, is now in custody, a university source said on condition of anonymity.

Police confirmed that a 49-year-old man was arrested in connection with the death and detectives were not seeking anyone else in connection with their inquiry, Thames Valley Police said.

"It does appear that no one else was present at the address and we are not currently looking for anyone else in connection with this incident," detective Rob Mason said.

Rawlings' wife was reportedly flying home from abroad after being informed.

British media said Rawlings and Sivia had published a book together in 1999 entitled Foundations Of Science Mathematics.

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, paid tribute to the victim.

"The entire university community has been profoundly saddened and shocked by the tragic and untimely death of Professor Steve Rawlings. Our thoughts are with his family and friends," he said.

Several stories in the Inspector Morse novels and television series, which has been syndicated worldwide, feature the gruff detective investigating the deaths of Oxford dons.