Norfolk

Norfolk pig farmer Stephen Brown took own life

Pig farmer Stephen Brown
Image caption Mr Brown was found dead on a track near his farm

A pig farmer at the centre of an inquiry into claims of animal cruelty took his own life while in a disturbed state of mind, an inquest has found.

The body of Stephen Brown, 52, was discovered at Harling Farm, near Thetford, Norfolk, on 15 February.

He died from a severe head injury due to a shotgun blast, Norfolk coroner William Armstrong heard.

On the Sunday before his death, footage was released apparently showing pigs at the farm being beaten and kicked.

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide.

The inquest, held in Norwich, also heard that Mr Brown had left a note in his car.

Mr Brown's body was found by his father.

RSPCA investigation

Michael Brown said he had last seen his son at 05:45 GMT on 15 February. He left Harling Farm, but returned later and saw his son's vehicle was missing.

He was concerned for his welfare and searched for the vehicle, finding it on a track adjacent to Quidenham Road, East Harling.

The pig farmer's body was found next to the vehicle "with no signs of life". Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination found the death was caused by a shotgun wound to the head.

There were no suspicious circumstances and no third-party involvement, the inquest heard.

The RSPCA is investigating the footage, filmed by animal rights group Animal Equality.

An undercover investigator gathered more than 200 hours of footage and 300 photographs over two months last summer.

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