Couple's death may be ‘murder suicide’
A former police inspector and his partner have been found dead from single gunshot wounds at their home in Wiltshire, in what police suspect was a murder-suicide tragedy.
Bill Dowling and his long-term girlfriend Vicky were found by police in the front porch of their home in Devizes on Saturday morning, after neighbours heard gunshots and saw their bodies lying behind the front door.
The 59-year-old police inspector retired from the force five years ago and went to work for the Ministry of Defence. Colleagues and friends said they remembered him as a ‘gentle giant’ of a man, who had honesty and integrity.
A major police investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding the deaths, but detectives were quick to reassure shocked residents of Devizes that they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, describing it as ‘isolated’.
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Neighbours on the quiet Moonrakers estate in Devizes said they heard what they believed were three gunshots at breakfast time on Saturday morning, although police later said they had found a weapon which had been discharged just twice.
Residents became concerned and one approached the front door of the retired inspector’s home, saw blood on the windows of the door, and saw the two bodies inside.
Police were called and broke in to the property from the back, and made the grim discovery. Acting Detective Chief Inspector Ian Saunders, from Wiltshire police, said officers were first called at 11am, but it is believed the deaths happened just before 9am. He said the bodies were ‘in full view of people walking by’, as the conservatory-type porch on the front of the house is fully-glazed, for two hours before police were called.
“We received a call from a neighbour who had discovered the bodies and neighbours overheard a number of gunshots from the address.
“Exactly what lead to this tragic incident is still being investigated. The couple were in full view of anyone walking by. This is an isolated incident and at this early stage of the investigation we do not believe that there was anyone else involved,” he said. “Whilst formal identification of the deceased has not yet taken place, the families have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers. Cordons have been placed around the scene which may cause some disruption in the area as officers continue to conduct their enquiries. Our thoughts are with the families at this very sad time,” he added.
Chief Inspector Mark Sellers added: “News of these tragic deaths will have been a shock to the community and our thoughts are with the families and friends of the two people involved.”
Shocked neighbours said Mr Dowling and his partner were a lovely couple. Sandra Nairn, 55, said the former police inspector had lived at the house in Devizes for at least 20 years. “He was absolutely lovely, we used to chat all the time, he’d always say hello, he said hello to everybody.
“He was here when I moved in in 1992. He’s been on this street a while I think,” she added. “I don’t know very much about Vicky, I just used to chat to her to say hello. They’d been together quite a while, it was a long-term thing. They seemed happy enough together, I last saw them last week and said hello. They were all smiles. We stood and chatted for a while and everything seemed normal.
“The first I knew about it was when there was a scene of crime van outside and all the police. I just kept thinking ‘Oh, I hope Bill is all right’ and wondering what had happened to him, it’s such a horrible thing to have happened,” she added.
Mr Dowling is believed to have two grown-up sons, James and Paul, 33, who live locally. They were too upset to speak publicly yesterday.