THE brother of a retired Kelso GP has been bludgeoned to death along with his partner at their luxury home in Tasmania.
The bodies of Professor Gavin Mooney, 69 – an internationally-renowned expert on health economics – and Dr Del Weston were found in the lounge of their house in the idyllic Mountain River area, near the island’s capital, Hobart, during the early hours of Wednesday last week.
They had suffered horrific head injuries and a hammer and sledgehammer were found next to the bodies, according to the police.
Dr Weston’s 27-year-old son from a previous relationship – who had only gone to live with the couple three weeks previously – has been charged with the double murder.
Nicolau Francisco Soares did not enter a plea when he appeared at Hobart Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon and was remanded in custody.
Professor Mooney is the brother of Dr Grant Mooney, who lives in Kelso’s Pinnaclehill Park.
When contacted, Dr Mooney would only say: “I do not wish to discuss this.”
Police in Tasmania say it was Mr Soares who alerted the emergency services and was waiting in another room of the couple’s house when police arrived.
News of Professor Mooney’s murder has been greeted with shock around the world.
He was regarded as Australia’s leading health economist after emigrating from Scotland almost 20 years ago.
Born in Glasgow and educated at North Berwick High School, he studied economics at the University of Edinburgh and graduated in 1969.
His first job was as a trainee actuary with Standard Life in Edinburgh before working for various government departments in London as an economic adviser.
Between 1986 and 1990 he was professor of health economics at the University of Copenhagen before returning to Scotland for his third spell at Aberdeen University where he was professor of health economics from 1991 until 1993. He then emigrated to Australia, where he was foundation professor of health economics at the University of Sydney between 1993 and 2000, followed by eight years as professor of health economics at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.
He and Dr Weston moved to Tasmania in September last year as part of their semi-retirement plans.
Paying tribute, Tanya Plibersek, Australia’s health minister, said the couple’s death was a tragic loss for the health community, both in Australia and internationally.
She added: “Professor Mooney was a fearless advocate for social justice, and in particular the role of citizen juries, leading debates on the importance of consumers in determining how their health resources are allocated.
“A rare breed of academic, his capacity to bridge theory and practice was evident throughout his career and semi-retirement.
“Described as one of the founding fathers of health economics, his research was driven by real-world challenges and geared towards identifying practical solutions.
“He was an inspiring teacher and supervisor, which, when coupled with his extensive publication record, will ensure his legacy persists.”
Dr Weston had recently been awarded her PhD on the political economy of global warming from Curtin University, and held previous academic appointments at the University of Tasmania and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Police say the couple had suffered severe blunt-force trauma to their heads and Detective Inspector Peter Powell said the only person who really knows what happened is the man now in custody.
“There was some sign in the room of a disturbance, some furniture overturned. But as to who was attacked first or how the altercation commenced, we don’t know,’’ said Inspector Powell, adding that there was no obvious motive for the double killing at this stage.