Inquest verdict given on ex-police officer and former lover

First published in News

AN inquest into the death of former police inspector Bill Dowling and his former partner Vicky Rose has decided that Mr Dowling caused his own death and Mrs Rose’s death was one of unlawful killing.

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

The inquest heard how the night before Mr Dowling was found dead in his porch with Mrs Rose, he drafted text messages to her indicating he wished to take his own life.

Today coroner David Ridley heard from Detective Constable Elizabeth Hunt, based at the major crime unit in Marlborough, who found the text messages after his death.

A text drafted on March 1 at 6.24pm to Mrs Rose, 58, said: “Tablets driving me mad, cannot go on, please tell the boys to forgive me. Call the police I’m in the garden.”

Mr Dowling, who retired from the force in 2007, was suffering from anxiety issues, depression and sleep deprivation.

The court also heard the details of Mr Dowling and Mrs Rose’s deaths from an expert in forensic ballistics, Andre Horn, based at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

He said there was evidence of at least two shots in the porch connected to Mrs Rose, one which partially hit her and another which was fired at close range into the back of her head.

There was no evidence to show that she was physically restrained, although Dr Hugh White, a forensic pathologist, indicated Mr Dowling had not been taking his prescribed medication.

Mr Ridley, who recorded a narrative verdict, said physical evidence at the scene showed two gun shots were fired leading to Mrs Rose’s death and a third, which resulted in Mr Dowling’s.

He said: “Shortly after 8.40am on Saturday March 2, Bill shot himself in the head using his shotgun in the porch area of his home. He had recently been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

“The examination after the death revealed that Bill had not been taking his medication as prescribed. I’m satisfied that Bill did die from a deliberate act initiated by himself.

“There was no note left, but I have taken into account the different text messages that Bill recorded on his phone at around 6.26pm the previous day. To me the clear suggestion is that a body would be found in the back garden, that something would happen.”

On the morning of her death Mrs Rose received a call from Mr Dowling asking her to come over as he was bleeding from parts of his body, but this account was not proved at the inquest.

Mr Ridley said that Mrs Rose was “lured” to the property and although Mr Dowling was suffering from depression and anxiety, he understood what he was doing on the morning itself.

He said: “On entering the house she was confronted by her ex-partner who was holding a shotgun, she turned around and was shot in the head.

“I’m satisfied that, yes, Bill was suffering from depression and general anxiety, but there is an awful amount of planning that has gone on. Essentially Victoria was lured to the property that morning on the pretence of bogus medical complaints.

“The appropriate conclusion is to record that Victoria Rose’s death was one of unlawful killing.”

The surgery Mr Dowling used, The Lansdowne Surgery in Devizes, is now part of a pilot scheme instigated by the Community Safety Partnership in Wiltshire and run by the NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

The pilot, which started after Mr Dowling’s death, encourages doctors to notify those at Wiltshire Council’s firearms licensing department if they have concerns for a person holding a license.

Mr Ridley said he would also write a report under rule 28 of the coroner’s regulations 2013 to lend his support to the pilot scheme and to prevent future deaths to others.

He said: “There is an opportunity here to get the support of the British Medical Association irrespective of the crucial cornerstone relationship between the GP and the patient, of patient confidentiality, to allow GPs to release information to authorities.”

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