Farmer shot himself after allegations left him distressed

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A ‘POPULAR’ pig farmer faced with allegations of animal cruelty took his own life while in a disturbed state of mind, an inquest has found.

The body of 52-year-old Stephen Brown was found at the family-run Harling Farm in East Harling on February 15.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said a post mortem examination revealed that Mr Brown had died from a severe head injury caused by a shotgun blast.

He said he understood Mr Brown had received ‘abusive and malicious’ calls following an investigation by the RSPCA into video footage released by campaign group Animal Equality, which it claimed showed cruelty at his farm between July and September last year, including the kicking and beating of pigs.

Speaking at the inquest in Norwich last Friday, Mr Brown’s father, Michael Brown, said he decided to stay with his son at his home the night before his death.

“He was obviously extremely upset about the proceedings and although he wasn’t implicated by what was going on he felt it was his responsibility,” he said.

Mr Brown said he noticed his son’s Range Rover had gone missing the morning of his death and became increasingly concerned after he didn’t answer his mobile phone.

He and a friend found his son’s body by his vehicle on a track adjacent to Quidenham Road with a shotgun beside him.

A note, along with family photos, were in his car.

Mr Armstrong said the RSPCA investigation was in no way the subject of the inquest but it was clear that Mr Brown was ‘extremely distressed’ by recent events.

He recorded a verdict of suicide while in a disturbed state of mind.

After the hearing, Mr Brown said: “I’ve lost a very loving son and his children have lost a very loving father.”