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Family tragedy
Respected: Gavin Mooney. Picture: Seven News

Two respected WA academics have been found bludgeoned to death in their Tasmanian home, allegedly by their stepson.

Professor Gavin Mooney and Dr Del Weston were found dead yesterday in the lounge room of their secluded property in Mountain River, about 40km south-west of Hobart. They had severe head injuries.

Dr Weston’s 27-year-old son Nicolau Francisco Soares has been charged over the couple’s murder.

It is alleged Mr Soares travelled from his Fremantle home to Tasmania in recent days and that he called police from the house on Bennetts Road.

Police discovered the bodies when they responded to Mr Soares’ phone call about 10am.

It is understood Mr Soares was found at the scene and taken for questioning.

Tasmania Police Det-Insp. Peter Powell said a hammer and a sledgehammer were found next to the bodies and had been taken as evidence.

“There is no obvious motive to us at this stage,"  Det-Insp. Powell said.

“It’s just one of those tragic situations, unfortunately."

Professor Mooney, a veteran health economist of 40 years, was based at Curtin University from 2000 to 2008 before leaving to take up a post at the University of Sydney, although he was still living in Perth. He was aged 69.

Victim: Delys Weston. Dr Weston’s 27-year-old son Nicolau Francisco Soares has been charged over the couple’s murder. Supplied picture

Dr Weston, 62, was an emerging but respected health academic, gaining her doctorate on the political economy of global warming from Curtin last year.

The couple married about seven years ago at their East Fremantle home, according to friend and fellow academic, Curtin University professor Dora Marinova.

Professor Marinova said they were drawn together by their mutual passion for the environment, Indigenous communities and working to help people in developing countries.

“This is a huge loss to the academic community as both of them were highly active researchers and had a lot more to contribute in the area of social justice and sustainability," she said.

“This is such a shock, it is the saddest thing you can possibly hear."

Former Curtin University colleague Charles Watson said Professor Mooney was “one of a kind"  who had made a major contribution in training people about the importance of health economics.

“Gavin wasn’t always easy to work with but his commitment to Indigenous people was boundless," he said.

Mr Soares has a brother and stepsister. His brother Alex is an aspiring photojournalist, while Katherine Weston has worked for a Perth law firm.

Alex Soares did not wish to speak when contacted by The West Australian yesterday, while Ms Weston could not be reached.

The Mountain River property was still cordoned off last night as investigators searched the house. Detectives also knocked on the doors of homes in the area.

Mr Soares appeared in the Hobart Magistrate’s Court yesterday where he did not enter a plea or apply for bail.

He was remanded in custody to reappear next month.