Hong Kong (AFP) – A British lecturer who taught in Hong Kong has been found dead in mainland China and was “possibly” murdered, police said, with fears his disappearance three weeks ago was linked to a million-dollar property deal.
Local media reported Hilary Bower, 60, had been murdered, but Hong Kong police would confirm only that he had been killed.
Bower worked at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and lived across the border in the southern mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, commuting between the two places.
He lived with his girlfriend and six-year-old son, according to reports.
Hong Kong police said on Wednesday they had received notification from mainland authorities that Bower had been killed in China.
There were no further details given about where he was found or how he died.
“Police have received notification from mainland relevant authorities that he was killed on the night of March 22,” a Hong Kong police statement said.
A police source told AFP it was “possibly a murder” but there had been no confirmation from mainland counterparts.
Bower was last seen on March 21, Hong Kong police said, adding that he had crossed from Hong Kong into the mainland.
Local reports said Bower was last spotted at a land border checkpoint.
His girlfriend reported him missing at a police station in Hong Kong on March 30, the police statement said.
A UK 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.”
A friend of Bower criticised police on both sides of the border for their handling of the case.
Richard Charles described them as “shoddy and shambolic”, the South China Morning Post reported.
“I find it unbelievable that Hilary’s friends and colleagues have had to find out from the media about this. We are in shock and are extremely upset,” said Charles.
Charles also said he believed there may be a link between Bower’s disappearance and a recent property sale for which Bower was due to receive HK$9 million ($1.2 million), the SCMP reported.
Bower was an English language instructor at the university and had also taught in China, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and Kuwait, according to his personal homepage on the university website.