Sunday 22 September 2019

Police seeking phone records to find out if slain teacher had been in contact with his murderer

Stabbed: John Curran had completed a two-year contract with the Mellon Educate charity
Stabbed: John Curran had completed a two-year contract with the Mellon Educate charity
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Detectives are trying to remotely access information on the missing phone of Irishman John Curran to see if he was contacted by his killer.

A murder investigation into the charity worker's death in South Africa is ongoing, with a number of lines of inquiry being pursued.

The 60-year-old retired principal was found with multiple stab wounds at his apartment in Buitengracht Street, Cape Town, at 10.30am on Wednesday.

The Irish Independent has learned that homicide detectives are trying to remotely access information on Mr Curran's phone, which has been missing since his murder.

The phone - which was bought just hours beforehand - was the only item taken from his home.

This led officers to believe he was murdered over a robbery for the phone.

Capt Ezra October said that examinations of the device may determine if Mr Curran was contacted by his killer before he was brutally murdered, which could help identify the perpetrator.

It has also emerged that a bloodstained knife used in the murder of the retired school principal was found at the scene.

Fingerprints from the weapon have been recovered, which will help Cape Town detectives identify the murder suspect.

CCTV footage of a man fleeing the apartment complex is already a main factor of the investigation, but Capt October did not confirm if a chief suspect has been formally identified.

A post-mortem examination of Mr Curran's remains was due to take place yesterday, but has been postponed until Monday due to capacity issues at the city morgue.

While local police believe he died from multiple stab wounds, they want to determine if he suffered other injuries during the attack.

His body was formally identified by a colleague on Thursday.

It is believed he was staying in the Cape Town apartment while on a holiday in recent weeks, having completed his contract with a South-African based non-profit organisation.

Sadness

The Mellon Educate charity, with whom Mr Curran worked for two years, has paid tribute to the "much-loved" Dublin man.

"With great sadness we learned yesterday that our dear colleague and friend John Curran was killed during a robbery in his apartment in Cape Town South Africa," a statement from the charity read.

"John only recently completed a two-year contract as director of education for Mellon Educate in South Africa and was staying on vacation in Cape Town for a number of weeks."

Chief executive Niall Mellon also expressed his sadness at the murder and said they were helping Mr Curran's family.

"I know our many volunteers and supporters will be very sad to hear this tragic news. John was much loved by everyone who met him and especially by the thousands of children he helped during his time with Mellon Educate," he said.

"We are assisting his family in every way we can and your warm wishes of empathy are sincerely appreciated."

He confirmed the charity's 'building blitz' will still take place from November 17-24.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the situation and providing consular assistance.

Mr Curran was predeceased by his son Eoin, who died in a sailing accident in New York in 2010. He is survived by his wife Liz, their children Darragh, Triona and Donal, six grand-children and his two sisters.

Before moving to South Africa, he was heavily involved with the Irish Primary Principals Network who described him as a highly esteemed colleague and friend.

Irish Independent

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