Grieving son shot himself

First published in News

A FARMER’S son was so devastated by his father’s death and the responsibilities he would have to shoulder that he shot himself three days later, an inquest heard.

Melville Walton died on May 29 this year and his son Philip, who helped him run the family farm, was found dead with a single shotgun wound on June 1.

Both men lived at Upper Woodhills Farm near Moreton-in-Marsh and ran the business together, Gloucestershire Assistant Deputy Coroner Katy Skerrett was told.

In a statement, Melville’s widow Rosalind told the inquest at Gloucester Coroners Court that on the day her husband died he went out to work as usual but when he came home for lunch he fainted.

She told the court how Philip pumped his father’s heart until the ambulance arrived. Paramedics carried on with CPR but he had died.

She said her husband had taken pills for high blood pressure and that he had collapsed earlier this year but he did not drink or smoke.

"Philip was always there for his father," she said. "Melville still did all the paperwork but he had deteriorated since January and Philip had taken on more and more of the work on the farm."

She said he was very close to his father and after his death would have had to take over all the work on the farm as well as helping care for his brother David, who was brain damaged.

Three days after Mr Walton’s death, his daughter Daphne could not find her brother Philip and went looking for him. She found him lying in woodland on the edge of the farm with a shotgun by his side.

She said: "Philip had helped dad when he collapsed but he told me that he was not able to save him the day he died."

Pc Simon Laird was called to the scene and said there was a single shotgun wound and no signs of anything suspicious.

Summing up, Mrs Skerrett said Melville Walton’s heart had been weakened by his high blood pressure and he had died from natural causes.

She recorded a verdict that Philip Walton intended to take his own life.

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