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Coimbra University
Coimbra University
Image: Richard Baker/Getty Images

Irish physicist sentenced to 7 years in psychiatric hospital for attempting to kill professor with axe

During his trial, Colin Gloster (37) said he was “desperate, broke, hungry and afraid of becoming homeless”.
Mar 8th 2018, 6:49 PM 50,641 15

AN IRISH PHYSICIST found guilty of attempted murder is facing a number of years in a psychiatric hospital in Portugal.

Colin Gloster, 37, from Co Meath, was sentenced to seven years and seven months to be served in a mental institution by a court in Coimbra today.

Gloster had denied trying to kill a female professor with an axe at the University of Coimbra on 4 August 2014, after a row over a terminated scholarship, worth around €5,000.

The accused was also ordered to pay damages of €50,000 to Professor Maria Filomena Figueiredo who suffered injuries to her left arm and right hand when she shielded herself in the 2014 attack.

During the trial the former doctoral student, who suffers from autism, said he was “desperate, broke, hungry and afraid of becoming homeless”.

“I aimed the hatchet at one of her arms. In an ideal situation, I wouldn’t use the hatchet, but reality isn’t ideal. I never tried to kill,” he said.

The defendant was also convicted of the crime of illicit recording.

Gloster’s father John, a retired psychologist, was unable to comment when reached by phone this evening.

Clinical psychologist Pedro Alves told the court that Gloster’s actions could be attributed to Asperger’s syndrome – a form of autism – and that the defendant was not “conscious of his actions”.

Gloster attended primary school in Ashbourne, before pursuing his studies in Pobalscoil Rosmini, Gracepark Road, Drumcondra.

The academic, who studied at Dublin City University, previously served an internship at the European Space Agency and was a researcher at the University of Pisa, Italy.

He came to Coimbra with a scholarship in 2008.

In March 2013 he was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the University of Coimbra Hospital and diagnosed with a Persistent Delusional Disorder.

Gloster was subsequently admitted to St Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin, and assessed as having autism before returning to Coimbra.

Tonight, Gloster is jailed in a common prison. He has three weeks to appeal.

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