Son charged with murdering couple in Tasmania

Last updated 01:08 21/12/2012

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A 27-year-old Fremantle man has been charged with murdering his mother and her partner in Tasmania.

Police say Professor Gavin Mooney, 69 and his partner Delys Weston, 62 were killed through blunt force trauma, believed to have been delivered with either a hammer or a sledgehammer.

Ms Weston's son Nicholau Francisco Soares, who lives in Fremantle, has been charged with two counts of murder.

He was believed to have been found at the scene and is understood to have arrived in Tasmania only a few days ago.

On Thursday, Professor Mooney's former colleagues at Curtin University remembered him as a "brilliant academic who wanted to make a difference".

Professor Mooney was the director of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group at Curtin from August 2000 until his retirement in October 2008.

Professor Mooney and Ms Weston moved to Tasmania in 2011

With a career spanning more than 40 years in health economics, Professor Mooney was internationally acclaimed with many books to his name.

In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town as "one of the founding fathers of health economics".

Curtin University vice chancellor Jeanette Hacket said during his time at the university, Professor Mooney was "instrumental in establishing Health Economics at the Faculty of Health Sciences".

"But it was Gavin's enduring commitment to improving Aboriginal health that he will be remembered for," she said.

"He worked at both academic and community levels to pave the way for Aboriginal control of Aboriginal health services."

A phone call prompted police to visit a property in Mountain River, south of Hobart, where two bodies were found about 1am AEST Thursday (10pm WST Wednesday).

"It's just one of those tragic situations, unfortunately," said Detective Inspector Peter Powell.

He says police are still trying to establish a possible motive for the crime.

Inspector Ian Lindsay told ABC that it was still too early to determine what happened.

"The investigation is in its early stages and we haven't identified any motive," he said.

"We'll be forensically examining the house; we'll also be conducting further enquiries and, at some point during the day, the male in custody I expect will be given the opportunity to be interviewed."

The charged man appeared in a Tasmanian court on Thursday. ABC reported no plea was entered and that there was no application for bail.

Professor Hacket said Professor Mooney's colleagues would remember him "as a brilliant academic who wanted to make a difference."

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