The wife of an Oxford don found dead at a fellow academic’s home says she believes his death was a “tragic accident”.
Professor Steven Rawlings, 50, was found late on Wednesday night at his colleague Dr Devinder Sivia’s bungalow on a quiet residential estate in Southmoor, Oxfordshire.
Dr Sivia, 49, was arrested on suspicion of the murder of the St Peter’s College fellow and tutor but has now been released on bail.
The academics have been described as “close friends” who knew each other for over 30 years, even collaborating on a book together.
In a statement issued through Thames Valley Police, Linda Rawlings said: “I do not believe that Steve’s death is murder and I do not believe Devinder should be tarnished in this way.”
Police tape surrounds the detached property and neighbours have expressed their sadness and bafflement over the incident.
Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, from Thames Valley Police said: “We are liaising closely with Oxford University and it is apparent that he was well-respected and liked within the college and colleagues and students have been devastated by the news.
Professor Rawlings was found at Dr Sivia’s bungalow in Southmoor
“This is a tragic incident and our investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of death,” he added.
Mrs Rawlings’ statement continued: “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.”
Vice-chancellor of Oxford University Professor Andrew Hamilton said in a statement: “The entire university community has been profoundly saddened and shocked by the tragic and untimely death of Professor Steve Rawlings.”
Detectives have confirmed that a post-mortem examination failed to establish a cause of death and further tests are now being carried out.
They have said that they are not currently looking for anyone else in connection with the married man’s death but have insisted they are “keeping an open mind”.
Dr Sivia has been bailed until April pending further police investigations.