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St Peter's professor found dead
A St Peter’s professor was found dead at a property in Southmoor, Abingdon on Wednesday night. Police are investigating the incident as murder.
A 49-year-old man has been arrested and is currently being held in custody.
Professor Steven Gregory Rawlings, a Tutorial Fellow in Physics and Professor in Astrophysics, was reported injured after “an incident” at a house on Laurel Drive at 11.22pm, according to Thames Valley Police. The 50-year-old was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
The property is believed to belong to Dr Devinder Sivia, a Stipendiary Lecturer in Mathematics for the Sciences at St John’s, who co-wrote a book with Professor Rawlings.
Students at St Peter’s and St John’s were sent emails by their Heads of College yesterday, both of which referred to an ongoing police investigation.
Mark Damazer, Master of St Peter’s, stated, “We are all greatly saddened and shocked. Our deepest condolences go to his wife Linda and all his family, friends, colleagues and students.”
Sir Michael Scholar, President of St John’s, warned students about potential media interest over the coming days “following an incident which took place near Oxford yesterday evening”.
Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, of the Major Crime Unit, said, “The investigation is still in the early stages and we are endeavouring to establish what has happened in the house and we are keeping an open mind until all our enquires are concluded.
“On attendance at the address CPR was administered by a member of the public, police officers and paramedics, but unfortunately the man had passed away.
“Officers have located family members and I would like to extend our condolences to the man’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
The initial post-mortem was “unable to establish a cause of death at this time.”
Professor Rawlings joined St Peter’s in 1992, holding positions first as a Lecturer in Mathematics, before becoming a professor in 1994. He was Head of the sub-Department of Astrophysics and took leading roles in the international Square Kilometre Array project and the redevelopment of the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station as a radio astronomy facility.
University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said, “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.”
Sam Lecacheur, a second year Physicist at St Peter’s, commented, “He really was a good tutor and a great person. He achieved so much in his field, and he was very inspirational as a teacher. What’s happened is a real shock.”