Detectives reveal retired lecturer had been stabbed


A LECTURER found dead in his upmarket Edinburgh home had been stabbed, police confirmed today (Mon).

The body of Roger Gray, 64, was discovered early on Saturday morning after a neighbour reported the smell of gas coming from the Morningside flat.

Detectives today stopped short of officially declaring the case a murder but confirmed the academic had been attacked.

They also revealed there had been a disturbance at the flat in the hours before his death.

Roger Gray: Victim had been stabbed, said police

Police insiders are said to be working on the theory that the killer deliberately rigged up a gas explosion in a bid to destroy the crime scene.

Today the hunt for clues – and a possible murder weapon – was stepped up as a specialist vehicle was brought in to pump water out of drains in Merchiston Crescent.

And a picture began to emerge of the statistics expert as a hard-working, globe-trotting academic who loved the arts but, in his own words, hated “vulgarity”.

Mr Gray worked his entire adult life at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and for the past 12 years lived alone at the flat where he died.

The flat, in a converted stone villa, is in one of Scotland’s richest postcodes. The street counts former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook among previous residents.

The officer in charge of the enquiry, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Blair, said the cause of death had not yet been established and it was not yet being treated as murder.

But he added: “He has injuries consistent with being stabbed. He was assaulted and as such it’s being treated as a suspicious death.

“We are looking at all areas of investigation and we are not focussing on any specific area. We are not at the stage where it’s a positive line of enquiry.”

DCI Blair revealed that Mr Gray was last seen alive by neighbours on Friday afternoon and “seemed absolutely fine”.

He added: “We have neighbours who heard a disturbance around the flat at around 10pm.

“We are asking anyone who was in the area at the time or around it to come forward and help us with our enquiries.

“We would also ask anyone who was a friend of Mr Gray to come forward as we are trying to build a picture around Mr Gray.”

He said that the body has still to be formally identified but that the next of kin had been informed.

DCI Blair said a squad of 40 officers were now working on the case.

He stressed the case “appears to be an isolated attack”, adding “there is nothing to suggest that anything like this is going to happen again.”

But neighbours, already shocked by Mr Gray’s death, were appalled that the killer apparently tried to cause a gas explosion.

Bill Coventry, 77, who lives in the flat above Mr Gray, raised the alarm on Saturday morning.

He said: “It was my bedroom that was reeking with gas. I just got in touch with the gas board immediately and the man came.

“He measured the flow of gas and said that he would be able to knock down the door of Mr Gray’s flat once he had alerted police.”

Mr Coventry described his neighbour as “courteous and polite”. “We saw eachother in passing but weren’t friends or anything,” he added.

Officers watch as a drain is investigated for clues

Today a council gully cleaning vehicle was brought in to the street to check whether the killer had dumped a knife, or other clues, in the drains.

A nozzle attached to the gully cleaner sucked water out of the drains, allowing teams of police officers to check for any heavy objects left behind.

Mr Gray retired from  Heriot-Watt University three years ago but continued to teach part-time.

The statistics lecturer had worked at the Department of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics since its creation in 1972.

According to his home page he was co-authoring a book called Models for Managing Risk in General Insurance with Cambridge-based Dr Susan Pitts.

The title was due to be published by Cambridge University Press in autumn this year. Dr Pitts’ colleagues said she had gone home on learning of Mr Gray’s death.

On his personal web page, Mr Gray listed “vulgar behaviour” and “the BBC’s obsession with sport” as his dislikes.

He said he was a fan of travelling, Hercule Poirot, as well as opera and choral music. He also listed Radio 4, Radio 3, Radio 7 and BBC4 amongst his likes.

The University of St Andrews graduate had travelled widely through his career. He had given lectures and presentations throughout the world, including in Hungary and China during his career.

The academic had given public addresses in Kenya. He had visited Malaysia several times to give presentations and to carry out recruitment work within the last decade.

And in recent years he gave courses in Russia, Ukraine, Sofia and Lithuania. He was a member of the Scottish Arts Club, the Edinburgh Festival Society, the Wagner Society of Scotland and the Scottish Actuaries Club.

For a number of years he also directed a series of courses on statistics for staff at the Scottish Executive.

John Holcombe of the Wagner Society said: “I have to say that I knew nothing about him other than the fact he came to our meetings. He seemed perfectly nice and a friendly sort of person.”

A long-term colleague at Heriot-Watt said: “It has been a terrible shock. It’s very hard to come to terms with.”

DCI Gareth Blair outside the Merchiston Crescent property