Wednesday 19 December 2018

Irish lecturer (66) 'stabbed and killed by former pupil' in France

Police block the access on December 5, 2018 at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Police block the access on December 5, 2018 at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

AN IRISHMAN working as a lecturer at a private university in Paris has been stabbed and killed by a former student.

French police say that the man was stabbed a number of times outside the Pole Universitaire Leonard-de-Vinci, in the Hauts-de-Seine on Wednesday.

Police block the access at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Police block the access at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

He has been named locally as 66-year-old John Dowling.

The French news service Le Monde said the police also confirmed that they had detained the suspected killer of the academic who was close to retirement after 20 years’ teaching service.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance," a spokesman confirmed.

The suspect who was detained has been described as a 37-year-old former student at Leonardo da Vinci University, which is situated in the district of La Defence in the suburbs of the French capital. The student is understood to have been born in Pakistan.

Forensic police at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Forensic police at the main entrance of the private Leonard-de-Vinci university in Courbevoie, northwest of Paris, where a 66-year-old teacher was repeatedly stabbed to death. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Sébastien Tran, a director at the university, said he believed the student was "dissatisfied" at his exclusion from the university in 2017, but added that he had not been seen as a particular threat.

"We are very surprised and upset," Mr Tran added.

The university director general, Pascal Brouaye, spoke to reporters after the incident. "It’s an incident which has stricken our entire community. This is a language teacher who gave 20 years’ service here and who was well liked by everyone," Mr Brouaye said.

A former student of Mr Dowling’s here in Dublin has described him as an "enthusiastic and captivating" teacher and "difficult to forget".

While on a three week English course in Dublin last summer, Italian student Carmen Colantuono was taught by Mr Dowling.

"Last summer I had the lucky chance to know John as my English teacher in Emerald Cultural Institute," she said.

"He was such a great storyteller, whose amount of funny or bizarre anecdotes about every aspect of life was so huge and impressive."

Mr Dowling had previously taught at the Emerald Cultural Institute in Dublin where colleagues paid tribute to him.

“It is with deep sadness that we have learnt of the death of our beloved friend and colleague John Dowling. We will all miss him more than words can say,” a Facebook post read.

Another user commented that they were sad to hear the news and that Mr Dowling was a “gentleman”.

The director general confirmed that the un-named victim was of Irish nationality, aged 66, and close to retirement. After the incident happened on Wednesday, all classes were suspended for the day, and counselling services were made available to staff and students.

The French minister responsible for third level education, Fréderique Vidal, expressed her "deep regret and enormous indignation" at news of the killing.  She added her hope that the incident will be fully investigated and all details made public.

A motive for the killing remains unknown.

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