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Teacher was killed in a fit of passion; POLICE HUNT YOUNG BLACK MAN.

POLICE investigating the murder of an Irish headmaster said yesterday they want to talk to a young black man seen going into his flat.

Detectives said it appeared that Casey McCann, 57, who was from Co Kerry, but had left Ireland in the 1960s, may have been killed in a "fit of passion".

The chief suspect was seen by a doorman late on Saturday night with McCann entering the apartment in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo.

Brazilian cops are working on the theory that the crime involved, as they put it, "passion" or "romance".

McCann's plush apartment showed some signs of a struggle and a whiskey bottle was smashed on the floor.

The Irishman's body had been tied up and he was dressed only in underwear.

The murdered Irish headmaster worked in Kent for 20 years before going to Brazil to take up his post at St Paul's British School, a top college in Sao Paolo.

McCann was a popular teacher at the posh Sevenoaks school in Kent where he eventually became deputy headmaster.

But he's best remembered for an extraordinary episode when he helped save seven kids from the clutches of the Moonies.

He took out a bank loan in 1981 and flew to San Francisco after distraught parents told how their two sons had been brainwashed and taken to America.

McCann joined up with local chaplain Richard Hullah and convinced the notorious cult that the two brothers needed their education.

He also helped free another five youngsters from the clutches of the sect.

The Moonies were involved in the infamous abduction of young Irish boy Phillip Cairns in 1986.

Yesterday, detectives in Sao Paolo said they planned to interview neighbours of the Irishman in a bid to track down his killer.

His body was discovered by a maid, Dirce de Olieveira, 48, on Monday morning when she arrived for work.

She noticed the lights were on in McCann's apartment and found him slumped in his bed wearing just his underpants.

He was bound hand and foot with his own ties and had suffered massive bruising.

Police chief Rita de Cassia Silva said McCann was openly gay.

"He lived alone but neighbours say he had a lot of visits from young men.

"Because of the way Mr McCann was found with his hands and feet tied, we are treating this as a murder inquiry," she said.

"He had been suffocated but we don't know how yet."

She added: "We may be looking for one of the young men who used to visit him."

McCann was a regular visitor to a coffee shop near his apartment.

Owner Hailton da Silva Santos said: "A lot of times he came in here with a tall, strong- looking guy with dark hair, about 30 years old.

"He also came in with a black guy with the same characteristics."

McCann was due to retire from the school in Sao Paolo at the end of the year and was considering a return to Ireland.

Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said they were aware of the case.

The Irishman's body is still awaiting post mortem.

McCann became a teacher after studying at Trinity College Dublin.

Yesterday, Tommy Cookson, the head of the Sevenoaks school where he taught from the late 60s, said: "He was a much-liked and respected teacher.

"Noted for his generosity, the power of his personality, his capacity for friendship and his sense of humour, he will be much missed by his many friends at the school."

People in Sevenoaks said he was not openly gay during his time there.

"Everybody knew but there was a big difference between being 'out' at a top school in the 1970s and 80s and being gay in Brazil during the 90s," said one man in Sevenoaks.

"Nobody would have ever said anything but it was presumed."

Friend Bob Ogley said: "He was tremendously gifted and energetic. You would find it hard to get anybody to say a bad word about Michael - he was that type of person."
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Author:Foxe, Ken
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Words:672
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