Inquest into Devizes double shooting to hear evidence from firearms expert

Wiltshire Times: Bill Dowling Bill Dowling

Coroner David Ridley will hear evidence from a firearms expert today as the inquest into the death of retired police inspector Bill Dowling and his former partner Victoria Rose continues.

The bodies of Mr Dowling, 59, and Mrs Rose, 58, were found in the blood-stained porch of Mr Dowling’s home on the Moonraker Estate, Devizes, on March 2 last year.

Neighbour Andrew Hyde, who found the bodies, said Mr Dowling was cradling what looked like a rifle in his arms and the cause of death was given as gunshot wounds.

Mr Dowling enjoyed pheasant shooting, owned a licensed shotgun, and had the opportunity to go shooting after retiring from the police and moving to work for the MoD at Upavon.

His gun skills were noted by Brigadier Piers Hankinson, Mr Dowling’s line manager at the MoD’s 243 Wessex Brigade, during a social trip to shoot pigeons in October 2012.

He said: “I remember Bill was a very good shot and conducted himself safely throughout. Bill obviously had a lot of shooting experience and he supervised both of us, I had no need of a guide.”

But yesterday’s inquest revealed that Mrs Rose had confiscated the keys to Mr Dowling’s gun cabinet following a decline in his mental health, which meant he was unable to work.

Mrs Rose’s mother Shelia Enyon said her daughter was a “kind and helpful person” and although she had ended her relationship with Mr Dowling she continued caring for him.

She said: “Victoria has told me in the past Bill has threatened to kill himself. She told him not to be so silly and I understand she had taken the keys to his gun cabinet but he must have had another set.

“I felt he had a bit of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality. There was something I found unpleasant about him and my husband and I did not think he was the right man for her.”

Mr Dowling also kept guns during his marriage to ex-wife Pauline Simmons, who said she “never felt threatened or vulnerable as far as the presence of guns in the house”.

Mr Dowling’s son James said: “My dad has owned a gun for as long as I have known, I remember the gun cabinet was in my room, but I never saw him getting it out or putting it away, he was a considerate gun keeper.

“The last three weeks of my dad’s life were completely out of character from him. He has never been a violent man or unstable in any way. It’s difficult to come to terms with what has happened.”

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