Ex-police chief and his lover found shot dead in porch of their home "after neighbours spotted bloodstains on window"


Ex-police chief and his lover found shot dead in porch of their home 'after neighbours spotted bloodstains on window'
Police were called to the house on the Moonrakers estate in DevizesBody of former police inspector Bill Dowling and his partner were found
Both victims appeared to have sustained gunshot woundsNeighbours called police after seeing the bodies in the porch
Wiltshire Police said the news will 'shock the community'

By
Andy Dolan and Luke Salkeld

PUBLISHED:

08:33 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:50 GMT, 4 March 2013


Ex-police chief Bill Dowling was found shot dead at his home in Moonrakers, Devizes

Ex-police chief Bill Dowling was found shot dead at his home in Moonrakers, Devizes

A retired police inspector and his girlfriend were found shot dead at his home, it emerged yesterday.

The bodies of Bill Dowling, 59, and a woman named locally as Vicky, were lying in the blood- spattered porch.

Witnesses spoke of seeing blood on the glass door with the bodies fully visible to passers-by after three loud bangs were heard coming from the house on Saturday morning.

Police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with what they called an ‘isolated and tragic incident’.

Mr Dowling, a divorced father of two, had recently returned from a month-long holiday to Australia on his own, according to a neighbour. He was described as a friendly ‘gentle giant’ by acquaintances who said they were mystified as to what lay behind the deaths on an estate in Devizes, Wiltshire.

Neighbours on the 50-property cul-de-sac yesterday described their shock, with one recalling how Mr Dowling had an interest in shooting pheasants. The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said he believed Mr Dowling had a firearms licence.

He 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.

Police were called to the house on the Moonrakers housing estate in Devizes on Saturday morning

Police were called to the house on the Moonrakers housing estate in Devizes on Saturday morning

‘It was a big gun – it looked like it
could have been a shotgun. 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.’

Another neighbour
said: ‘I heard screams and then what I thought was a door slam. It must
have been shots. We went to check on them and the porch was spattered in
blood.’

Detective Chief
Inspector Ian Saunders from Wiltshire Police, where Mr Dowling worked
for 30 years before retiring six years ago, said officers were alerted
by neighbours who spotted the bodies. He added: ‘Exactly what led to
this tragic incident is still being investigated.’

A
weapon was recovered from the scene, but police would not confirm the
type of firearm or whether Mr Dowling was a registered gun owner.

Yesterday the youngest of Mr Dowling’s sons, James, 31, was too upset to comment.

Former police inspector Bill Dowling and his partner were found dead at the house having suffered apparent gunshot wounds

Former police inspector Bill Dowling and his partner were found dead at the house having suffered apparent gunshot wounds

But
from his home, less than half a mile away from the shooting, he said:
‘I can confirm we have suffered a sudden death in the family. We are
obviously grieving and we don’t want to say anything further at this
time.’

Officers were keeping
guard at the entrance to Mr Dowling’s house, while forensic experts
worked beneath a tent positioned at the front of the end-of-terrace
property. The police cordon also enclosed a Skoda Fabia vRS hatchback
parked outside.

Neighbour
Sandra Nairn, 55, said of Mr Dowling: ‘He was lovely. We used to chat
all the time. He’d always say hello – he said hello to everybody.

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

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

‘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 and seemed happy enough
together. I last saw them last week and they were all smiles.’

Another
neighbour, Shirley Carr, 52, said she heard a commotion at around
8.40am on Saturday. She said: ‘I heard the initial first bang, now I
know it was a shot, it was so loud.

‘Then, no more than five minutes later, another two quieter bangs came. There were three in total.’

A
friend of Mr Dowling said: ‘I’ve known Bill for 18 years. He was a
great guy. He was going out with a woman called Vicky, but they didn’t
live together. She was in her early 50s, blonde and pretty attractive.
She used to come and go. They seemed quite a happy couple.

‘He was a gentle giant. He was over six foot tall and was well known in the community.’

Mr Dowling was a station commander at Marlborough police station for nearly five years.

He left that role in 2004 and became a force operations room inspector in the control room in Devizes.