Cash-crisis farmer killed himself
Saturday, December 12, 2009, 10:00
A FATHER-OF-TWO took his own life with a bolt stunning device used in the slaughter of animals, after his farm fell into financial difficulty, an inquest has been told.
The body of pig farmer John Shinn, 45, who was known to "bottle things up and shoulder problems on his own", was discovered in April with the stunning device at his side at Woodhay Farm, Whitestone, Exeter.
He was found by Paul Burns, a stockman at the farm, the inquest at Honiton Magistrates' Court was told.
In a statement read out at the hearing, Mr Burns said just before he started work at 8.30am, Mr Shinn had spoken to him and said he would not be at work until the livestock lorry arrived later as he had a migraine.
Mr Burns said this was not unusual as Mr Shinn had suffered migraines before and not come to work.
At 11.55am, the livestock lorry arrived and Mr Burns needed Mr Shinn to help him load the pigs on to the lorry. He went to the farm office and saw Mr Shinn lying on the floor on his back with the bolt stunning device at his side.
A post-mortem examination report concluded that the farmer had killed himself with a captive bolt stunning.
In a statement read to the inquest, psychotherapist Maureen Wright said Mr Shinn had attempted suicide in February 2008, but had been "keen to get well quickly".
It said the "financial problems of the farm seemed intractable". Mr Shinn began to come off antidepressants in October 2008 and in January was functioning without medication.
A statement by Mr Shinn's wife Elizabeth said he had become depressed 18 months before. He had been drinking and she thought he was close to a breakdown.
She said he had seen his GP shortly before he died and received medication for depression, although depression was not diagnosed.
Before she left the house at 8.50am to go to the hairdresser, Mr Shinn had come back in the house and told her he had a migraine. When she left, Mr Shinn was in bed.
Exeter and Greater Devon deputy coroner Darren Salter said: "There was no note that I'm aware of, but given the act, history and circumstances, I am satisfied it was his intent to take his own life."