Tuesday 23 July 2019

Dublin physicist charged with attempted murder after axe attack on lecturer

Dublin man Paul Gloster outside court in Portugal
Dublin man Paul Gloster outside court in Portugal

Fergal MacErlean

A Dublin physicist arrested on suspicion of attacking a lecturer has been charged with attempted murder.

Colin Gloster (36) was arrested in Portugal after allegedly wounding a university professor in August 2014 after his university funds were discontinued.

João Ramos, a Coimbra Justice Department official, said today that Gloster was also charged with a crime of illicit recording.

Maria Filomena Figueiredo suffered injuries to her left arm and right hand when she shielded herself in the attack at a fourth floor University of Coimbra office.

The lecturer, who is in her mid-fifties, required surgery for a shallow wound which had reached tendons.

Mr Gloster attended primary school in Ashbourne, before pursuing his studies in Pobalscoil Rosmini, Gracepark Road, Drumcondra.

The academic, who studied at Dublin City University, previously served an internship at the European Space Agency and was a researcher at the University of Pisa, Italy.

He is suspected of assaulting the professor after she refused to renew his scholarship which was cut in January 2014 as he owed €5000 in tuition fees.

The Public Prosecutor’s charging document accuses Mr Gloster of attempted first-degree murder. It states he struck Ms Figueiredo after she opened the office door to him before asking the Irish student to leave when he raised his voice.

Mr Gloster raised his voice “to a higher pitch in a menacing attitude” before placing his foot on the bottom of the door which Ms Figueiredo was attempting to close.

The former PhD student is accused of brandishing a small axe which he had concealed on his waist before Ms Figueiredo was “struck repeatedly in the arms by the various blows the defendant directed to her chest” in the August 4th attack.

He was restrained by another student as police arrived on the scene.

Mr Gloster subsequently appeared before Coimbra Criminal Court and was later freed. He was instructed to appear at the court every week.

During a police interrogation in January 2015 Mr Gloster was found to have made an illegally recording, the charge document states.

In recent months Portuguese Judiciary Police reconstructed the attack at Coimbra –  200km north of Lisbon.

Portuguese police also asked that a psychiatric evaluation be carried out on Mr Gloster.

According to the press official at the university, the Irish former student was considered “problematic”.

An employee at the college told local paper Jornal de Noticias: “He was completely anti-social. He never greeted anyone.”

The troubled man has a history of mental illness.

In 2013 medical experts in Dublin concluded that he did not have a “major psychiatric disorder”.

Rui Silva, Colin’s former PhD supervisor, said: “We think that there was a big failure on the management of Colin's case between Coimbra and Dublin specialists that followed Colin after he was institutionalized.

“It is a pity, because both countries have specialists and infrastructures to deal with cases like this – Colin is in the autistic spectrum – and maybe a certain degree of negligence in the coordination between psychiatric services in Dublin and Portugal lead to his action, when he came back to Portugal to commit this crime.”

António Novais Teixeira, Ms. Figueiredo’s lawyer, said staff at the University remain afraid Gloster may return; he returned to the campus twice when a barring order lapsed.

“There is justified fear not only by Maria Filomena Figueiredo but also by the other teachers and students of the University that the episode of violence may be repeated.”

Lawyers representing Mr Gloster could not be contacted for comment. They have not as yet contested the charges

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