Academic originally from Hitchin who went missing in China found dead after £820,000 property deal

Hilary St John Bower, originally from Hitchin, has been found dead in China.

Hilary St John Bower, originally from Hitchin, has been found dead in China. - Credit: Archant

An academic in Hong Kong – said to be originally from Hitchin – has been found dead in mainland China three weeks after he was last seen, and police say he was murdered just hours after crossing the frontier.

Hilary St John Bower, 60, was months away from retirement and was looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend and eight-year-old son.

He lived in Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, and had recently closed a £820,000 property deal, but he is not thought to have received any of the money.

Friends and family suspected foul play when he went missing, and police now agree. They say Mr Bower was killed near Shenzhen in the evening on March 22.

Officers have not given a motive for the murder, but those close to him are said to believe the property deal could be linked.


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The long-term expat taught English and had worked at Hong Kong Polytechnic University since 1996. He had previously taught in Spain, South Korea and China. Thailand and Kuwait.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman 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.”

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A spokeswoman for Hong Kong Polytechnic University said: “The university will render all necessary support and assistance to Mr Bower’s family, and offer counselling to colleagues and students in need.”

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