FAMILY members have spoken of a downward trend in the behaviour of retired police inspector Bill Dowling leading up to the day police found his body in the porch of his home on the Moonrakers estate, Devizes.

Members of Mr Dowling’s family and the family of his former partner Victoria Rose, also found fatally shot on March 2 last year, said today that there were several factors leading to his decline, including difficulties with his job and lingering grief over his mother’s death.

Mr Dowling, who during his police career was a sergeant in Devizes before he moved to Marlborough where he was the inspector, worked for the MoD at Upavon after retiring for the police force, but he was facing increasing pressure at work.

Coroner David Ridley heard a statement from Joan Plume, secretary to Mr Dowling’s boss Brigadier Piers Hankinson, suggesting that he was struggling with work.

Ms Plume said: “Bill was asked to write a short justification for spending on public money. When I read it I felt it wasn’t very good for someone of Bill’s grade and experience.”

From December 8 to January 9 Mr Dowling, 59, went on holiday to Australia by himself to visit his mother’s sister and at this point his relationship with Mrs Rose, 58, had ended.

His son James Dowling said: “Dad did not really talk much about his relationship but he said he just wanted a break and wanted to be single with no responsibility.”

When Mr Dowling came back from Australia family members noted a change in him and in February he was signed off sick from work due to insomnia and depression.

Mrs Rose’s son Johnathan Rose said: “The MoD was a different environment and more computers based than he was used to. He found the job stressful and he told me he would take calls relating to work on his personal mobiles at silly times.

“When Bill went to Australia he didn’t want to take his mobile as work would call him, but he did in the end and I know work contacted him a couple of times.

“I had been to Australia myself so was ready when Bill came back to have a long conversation with him to ask if he had seen the same things I had. However when he came back he was distant.”

But some family members said the break-down began long before Mr Dowling’s problems with work and before the trip to Australia, starting with the death of his mother two years ago.

Annie Dowling, James Dowling’s wife, said that Mr Dowling was extremely close to his mother, often going on holiday with her.

She said: “His mum was number one to him, I remember Victoria telling me that he mum always came first. When his mum died Victoria was at the hospital with Bill and he was completely bereft.

“With the benefit of hindsight I think that was when things changed for Bill, I think he lost his purpose in life.”