Oxford professor death: Arrested man's family say it was 'tragic accident'

Dr Devinder Sivia leaves the police station in Abingdon in the back seat of car
Image caption Dr Sivia was held by police after Prof Rawlings was found dead at his home in Southmoor

The family of a man who was arrested after the death of an Oxford professor has said it was a "tragic accident".

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

Dr Sivia, 49, was held on suspicion of murder, but has since been bailed until April.

A family statement said they did not believe the men could have quarrelled and described their "friendship was exemplary".

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

Dr Sivia's family said: "They were two like-minded individuals, whose friendship was exemplary. Whenever the need arose, they were there for each other."

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

On Friday the wife of Prof Rawlings also said the men were "best friends" and she did not believe her husband was murdered.

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

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

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, who was official fellow and tutor in physics at St Peter's College, was declared dead at the scene.

'Open mind'

Thames Valley Police said a post-mortem examination had been unable to establish a cause of death and 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," Det Supt Mason said.

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

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

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