herald

Monday 10 December 2018

'Irish teacher (66) knifed to death in Paris by ex-student'

Forensic officers begin combing the scene at the
university. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images
Forensic officers begin combing the scene at the university. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

An Irishman working as an English teacher in Paris has been stabbed to death, allegedly by a former student.

The man was last night named as 66-year-old John Dowling, who had previously taught in Dublin.

He was stabbed a number of times outside the Pole Universitaire Leonard-de-Vinci, in the Hauts-de-Seine area, yesterday.

It is understood that Mr Dowling was close to retirement after 20 years' teaching service.

Assistance

The French news service Le Monde said French police had detained the suspected killer of the academic.

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

The suspect who was detained has been described as a 37-year-old former student at the Leonard da Vinci university, which is situated in the business district of La Defence in the French capital.

The former student is understood to have been born in Pakistan.

Sebastien 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 where Mr Dowling was stabbed to death. Photo: AFP/Getty
The university where Mr Dowling was stabbed to death. Photo: AFP/Getty

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

"It's an incident which has stricken our entire community," Mr Brouaye said. "This is a language teacher who gave 20 years' service here and who was well-liked by everyone."

Tribute

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

He has been described as an "inspiring" man.

"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," a Facebook post read.

"John was one of the kindest, nicest and personable people you could ever meet with a smile and kind word for everyone."

"He is a great loss to us all," another user said.

Inspiring

A former student of Mr Dowling said: "John was my teacher at that same university in Paris during my exchange.

"What an inspiring man he was."

The French college where John worked said it would be offering assistance to staff and students who required counselling following the traumatic incident yesterday.

France has recently seen a spate of violent protests by students angry about the cost of attending university.

The mayor of Frejus, a small town in the south of France, yesterday said the incident was an example of tensions "worsening".

"Support to his loved ones and colleagues," he said.

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