MEMBERS of a Blackpool church attended by a lecturer suspended following the death of a teenager have spoken of their shock.
Brian Dodgeon, 60, has been suspended from the University of London after the death of 15-year-old Isobel Reilly at a party at his west London home.
Mr Dodgeon, originally from Blackpool, was held by police on suspicion of child abandonment and possessing drugs following the death of the teenager, who had taken a cocktail of illegal substances including Ecstasy.
Members of North Drive Methodist Church, Anchorsholme, where Mr Dodgeon attended with his brother and mother Margaret described him as a “lovely man”.
Church warden Diana Holden said she remembers seeing him returning to Blackpool to visit his mum.
She said: “While his mum was alive he used to visit the church often and still returns now from time to time.
“His mum was involved in the church for a long time, with the choir, Wednesday Fellowship and the Wesley Guild, it is a real shock.
“He is a lovely man, very very nice, very responsible and very well respected.
“Whenever he has come up to Blackpool he has popped into the church and is always friendly to me even though I don’t know him that well.”
Fellow church warden Peter Walker described Mr Dodgeon, who also played for Blackpool Chess Club, as extremely pleasant.
He said: “It was a real shock when I heard what had happened but I suppose it is a different life style down there.
“I didn’t know him particularly well but I remember him as polite and courteous, he is a very pleasant man.”
The academic, whose research subjects have included health inequalities and alcohol consumption patterns, was bailed to a date in June.
Detectives are investigating the possibility that the group found the drugs, including Ecstasy and ketamine, in the house during the unsupervised party.
The friends called 999 at around 4am, when Isobel stopped breathing. London Ambulance Service took her from the property, on Barlby Road, Kensington, to hospital but she died later that morning.
Another 14-year-old girl and two 14-year-old boys were detained in hospital for observation, after they also took drugs. They are thought to be stable and out of danger.
The youngsters spent the evening drinking alcohol after Mr Dodgeon and his partner Angela Hadjipateras went out for the night. Neighbours reported the raucous party getting out of hand, with groups of boys fighting.
The institute issued a statement saying it was deeply sorry to hear of the tragedy, and extended its sympathy to Isobel’s family and friends.
A post-mortem examination is yet to be carried out.