INQUEST: Riddle of death of Old Hutton farmer, who was found in barn with gunshot wounds

A FARMER who took his own life may have done so because of the pressures and the rules and regulations imposed on the industry, an inquest heard.

James Thompson was found on the floor of a barn at Hood Ridding Farm, Old Hutton, with a firearm in his hand, which a police officer said was pointing towards his head.

The 54-year-old lived and worked on the farm with his mother Eva Thompson.

When asked by the coroner if there was anything that could have made her son stressed or unhappy, Mrs Thompson replied the ‘pressures’ and ‘rules and regulations’ of farming.

But the hearing was told Mr Thompson appeared to be happy on the farm and loved his stock.

Mrs Thompson added that her son had given no clues as to what might have led to his death on February 6, saying it was ‘a complete mystery’.

Mr Thompson’s sister, Sheila Shuttleworth, described seeing him on the day of his death and said he seemed ‘fine – just his normal self’.

A post mortem examination found no evidence of alcohol or drugs in Mr Thompson’s system and the inquest heard he had no history of mental health problems.

A pathologist told the inquest the cause of death was a gunshot injury to the head and that the features of it were consistent with a self-inflicted injury.

PC Jason Hesmondhalgh of Cumbria Police, who attended the scene, told the inquest officers had ruled out foul play and third party involvement after an investigation.

Recording a verdict that Mr Thompson took his own life, Coroner Ian Smith said: “This was a deliberate act – the only missing piece is the motive.

“The family are at a total loss, and so am I, to understand why on earth this awful tragedy would have happened.”

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