Oxford professor's wife says death 'was not murder'

Steven Gregory Rawlings
Image caption Professor Rawlings' wife believes his death was a "tragic accident"

The wife of an Oxford professor found dead at a fellow academic's home said the men were "best friends" and she did not believe her husband was murdered.

Steven Rawlings, 50, was found on Wednesday at a bungalow in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, belonging to fellow Oxford academic Dr Devinder Sivia.

Dr Sivia was held on suspicion of murder but has since been bailed.

Linda Rawlings said: "I do not believe Steve's death is murder... I do not believe Devinder should be tarnished."

'Man of integrity'

She said she believed the death had been a "tragic accident".

In giving tribute to her late husband, she added: "Steve was a well-loved, caring, intelligent, sensitive man.

"Steve and Devinder were best friends since college and I believe this is a tragic accident.

"Steve is a man of integrity, kindness and a very accessible person.

"Steve was the love of my life and we have known each other all of these years and he has never changed, even though he has achieved so much and has all these qualities.

"I will miss him more than anything else in the world."

Prof Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said the entire university community was shocked by the unexplained death.

'Open mind'

He said the institution was "profoundly saddened".

Police said the death may be "a matter for a coroner's inquest rather than a criminal court".

Officers said Dr Sivia had been bailed until April.

The emergency services were called to Laurel Drive at 23:20 GMT on Wednesday by a member of the public reporting that a man had been injured at the property.

Prof Rawlings was declared dead at the scene.

Image caption The emergency services were called to the property by a member of the public

Thames Valley Police said a post-mortem examination carried out on Prof Rawlings had been unable to establish a cause of death and that further tests would be conducted.

They said they were keeping an "open mind" about the circumstances of the academic's death.

Det Supt Rob Mason said: "A substantial amount of information is already in the public domain and we can confirm that the two individuals involved have been friends for over 30 years."

He said all potential circumstances that could have led to Prof Rawlings' death were being investigated.

"We are mindful that ultimately the death may be a matter for a coroner's inquest rather than a criminal court and I would ask for patience from both the media and the public while we continue our investigation."

Co-authored book

Prof Rawlings was official fellow and tutor in physics at St Peter's College.

The academic, who was elected to his fellowship in 1994, was head of the sub-department of astrophysics at the university from 2006 to 2010.

Former BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer, now master at St Peter's College, said Prof Rawlings was a "much-liked and admired tutor" who was survived by his wife, Linda.

Mr Damazer said: "He was one of the lead scientists in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and also played a prominent role in the redevelopment of the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall as a radio astronomy facility."

The SKA project involves constructing the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever built.

Dr Sivia, based at St John's College, has taught "maths for natural sciences" to chemistry and physics undergraduates for a number of years.

Dr Sivia and Prof Rawlings co-authored and published a book together in 1999, which was called Foundations Of Science Mathematics.

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