A Hong Kong-based British lecturer who went missing hours after crossing over to the mainland in March was confirmed killed, the Hong Kong police said after being notified by Chinese authorities, Reuters reports.
Hilary St John Bower, 60, an English language instructor on the verge of retirement at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, was looking forward to spending a few days with his long-time girlfriend and son who live in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
Bower’s friend and former colleague, Richard Charles, told Telegraph that Bower was expecting big cash from a property deal and looking forward to a happy retired life with the woman and son.
According to police, Bower had been dead for more than a week by the time he was reported missing by his girlfriend on March 30.
“The victim was killed on the evening of March 22 in mainland China,” the police said.
Their statement included no specifics, however, on how he was killed, a possible motive, or why it had taken so long to confirm his death.
Hong Kong media reports said he often traveled to Shenzhen to meet his girlfriend and son.
The Chinese Public Security Bureau in Shenzhen said they had no information on the case when contacted by Reuters.
The Polytechnic University also gave no immediate response to inquiries about Bower.
A U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “We are providing assistance to the family of a British national reported missing in southern China and are urgently seeking further information from local authorities.”
The Hong Kong police are seeking further details from Chinese authorities and investigations are continuing.
Charles said he was devastated by the news of his friend’s murder.
According to him, his friend was expecting to receive £820,000 ($576,028) from a property deal.
Bower, who hails from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, had been teaching at the Polytechnic University since 1996. He had previously taught in China, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and Kuwait.
Murders of foreigners are extremely rare in China, though the murder in 2011 of another British man, Neil Heywood triggered one of the country’s biggest political scandals in decades.
The wife of former top Chinese leader Bo Xilai was later convicted as Heywood’s killer, leading to Bo’s downfall and sentencing to life in prison in 2013 for corruption.