WILTSHIRE Police have apologised to the family of a shooting victim for the way they dealt with a domestic abuse complaint made against the man who killed her.
On Tuesday Coroner David Ridley recorded a verdict of unlawful killing after hearing how Victoria Rose's body was found with gunshot wounds at the home of her former partner Bill Dowling, a civil servant at Upavon, on March 2 last year.
He was also found dead at the scene in Devizes by neighbours. Mr Ridley recorded a narrative verdict on Mr Dowling, 59, a former Wiltshire Police inspector who had been working with the Ministry of Defence for five years since retiring. He said Mr Dowling had been depressed and was signed off sick from his job.
He had lured Mrs Rose, 58, to his home with the pretence that he was ill and then shot her twice in the head before turning the gun on himself.
During the inquest it emerged his ex-wife Pauline Simmons had been to the police when her marriage was breaking up and complained about his abusive behaviour.
She said in a statement to the inquest: “I recall the police officers came to the house and took me to the police station. They warned me about the fact that Bill could lose his job. I thought that the police were siding with Bill and protecting his career.”
After the inquest Mrs Rose's son Johnathan, 33, said: “It was swept under the carpet, and allowed his abusive behaviour to continue. We believe William felt he could do as he pleased, as he never experienced any consequences.
“It created an environment where those closest to him learned to ignore his behaviour and the risks he posed to our mum.”
After the inquest DCI Ian Saunders said: “We acknowledge that this was not properly dealt with and fell well below the standards we would have expected from all our officers when dealing with domestic abuse. Since that time our policy and procedures for dealing with domestic abuse have been significantly improved and updated and are regularly reviewed in line with national best practice.”
Chief Superintendent Kier Pritchard said the force will come down heavily on any officer found guilty of domestic abuse.
Asked if the police had apologised to the Rose family, he said: “The culture of the police service was different in 1988. We didn't do what we were expected to do and that was regrettable.
"We have engaged with the family and have been engaging with them all the way through.
“I think the important part is to reassure them how Wiltshire police provision has changed in relation to domestic abuse since 1988.”