Retired policeman and his partner found dead


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The Independent Online

A retired police inspector and his partner were found shot dead in his home in a suspected murder-suicide.

The bodies of Bill Dowling and his partner, known only as Vicky, were found by neighbours in the glass porch of the former officer’s house on Saturday. Neighbours alerted by the sound of gunshots went to the property on the Moonrakers estate in Devizes, Wiltshire to find blood splattered on the porch windows, and the bodies slumped inside.

Locals said Mr Dowling had a firearms licence and used to go pheasant shooting.

A neighbour who lives opposite told how she had heard two loud noises on the morning of the shooting “I heard a bang and thought it was the back door,” she told the Wiltshire Times.

According to the woman, who asked not to be named, other neighbours living next door to Mr Dowling’s had heard arguing which sounded like furniture being moved.

Mr Dowling, believed to be in his 60s, worked for the police for 30 years before leaving the force five years ago. It is understood he then took a job with the Ministry of Defence.

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I have known him for more than a decade and he was into shooting. I’d seen him load what looked like a big gun case into his car a few times, I think he went pheasant shooting.

“It was a big gun – it looked like it could’ve been a shotgun or something. He had long had an interest in shooting but over the last couple of months I saw him in his shooting gear a lot more.”

The neighbour added: “It just doesn’t make sense. They were a lovely couple, and he had recently spent a lot of money doing up the house.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Saunders said: “We have recovered a weapon from the scene. My working assumption is that weapons were discharged and the victims had sustained some form of gunshot wounds.”

A police spokesman said today that a post-mortem examination would be carried out.

Detective Chief Inspector Saunders said that the other victim of the shooting was Mr Dowling’s partner, after it was initially reported that she was his ex-wife.

Another neighbour of Mr Dowling told how he lived alone in his two-storey property, but was regularly visited by his partner.

They were both lovely, nice people,” she said. “He was very friendly, would say hello and ask how we were.

“He was a good neighbour, and she seemed very friendly too. I just can’t believe what has happened.”

The shooting is the second shooting to take place in Devizes in the last six months.

In July last year a solicitor, James Ward, 58, was shot dead in his office and later died from his injuries.

But Chief Inspector Mark Sellers, from Wiltshire Police, assured residents today:  “I would like to reiterate that this is an isolated incident and reassure members of the community that Devizes is a safe place.”

Detective Chief Inspector Saunders added: “The investigation continues to try and establish what led to this tragic incident.”

This afternoon police were keeping guard at the entrance to Mr Dowling’s garden at the front of the house, while forensic work was being undertaken in a tent at the front of the terraced building.

Wiltshire Police said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.