herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Irish lecturer (66) in Paris stabbing horror was 'loved by everyone'

Lecturer John Dowling was stabbed and killed in Paris
Lecturer John Dowling was stabbed and killed in Paris

French police investigating the murder of Irish lecturer John Dowling were last night continuing to quiz a 37-year-old former student over his killing.

The English language teacher was attacked and stabbed several times at the Pole Universitaire Leonard de Vinci on Wednesday.

He had taught at the Parisian campus for almost 20 years and was due to retire in the coming months.

Mr Dowling (66) was killed after allegedly being attacked by a former student at the university who was expelled last year.

The 37-year-old Pakistani national was arrested over the murder on Wednesday, and was still being questioned by local police last night.

Captivating

Mr Dowling had worked at the Paris college since 1999, while also lecturing at the Emerald Cultural Institute in Rathgar, Dublin, during the summer. He also had strong links to Donegal.

A former student of the victim in Dublin 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 the 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.

"I was really shocked by the tragic and so futile circumstances that caused his death, so contrarily small for a big man like he was."

In a Facebook post, the Dublin language school said: "It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of our beloved friend and colleague John Dowling.

"We will all miss him more than words can say."

Students and staff at the Pole Universitaire Leonard de Vinci yesterday held a minute's silence in memory of Mr Dowling.

Boards with messages of condolences were displayed at several places around the campus - including the scene of the attack.

In a statement, the university said the suspect had been a student there for a number of months last year, but had been expelled in August 2017.

"John was a very friendly man, respected and loved by all students and colleagues," a spokesman said.

"He was also known for his great availability and kindness.

"The community of the Pole Leonard de Vinci is deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy of extreme violence.

"We express our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of John Dowling."

Ann Bertrand, a former student of Mr Dowling, said he was "loved by everyone" who knew him.

"He was someone who was simply pleasant to be around," she told Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1.

"He had an enormous sense of humour. You could say he was a role model."

Stricken

Ms Bertrand said the tragic lecturer was modest, successful and was loved by everyone he came into contact with, both professionally and personally.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it was aware of the tragedy and that it was providing consular assistance .

Sebastien Tran, a director at the Pole Universitaire Leonard de Vinci, said he believed the student was "dissatisfied" at his exclusion from the college in 2017, but added that he had not been seen as a particular threat in subsequent months.

"We are very surprised and upset," he added.

The university's director general, Pascal Brouaye, spoke to reporters after the incident.

"It's an incident which has stricken our entire community," he said.

"This is a language teacher who gave 20 years' service here and who was well-liked by everyone."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News