Farmer hanged himself over '˜stress' of animal cruelty charges

A farmer from a prize winning family of horse owners committed suicide after the RSPCA brought charges of animal cruelty against him.

Thursday, 9th March 2017, 4:59 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:57 am

Stephen Parkin, 56, was found hanging from a steel beam at one of the barns at the family’s White House Farm in Hemel Hempstead Road, Redbourn.

Mr Parkin, who was adopted age six by the Smith family who lived at the farm, was said to be “stressed” over a private prosecution that had been brought against residents of the farm by the RSPCA.

The farmer hanged himself on the day he was due to appear at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on July 26 last year.

The RSPCA visited the farm in October 2014, during which Mr Parkin said he would “top himself” and was visibly shaken by their visit, but had shown no signs of harming himself since then.

Mr Parkin had morning tea with his brother Michael Morley and fed the animals as usual, but Mr Morley became concerned and began to search the grounds when Stephen did not return to get ready for the court hearing.

Mr Morley found him hanging by the neck, and released him and got the family to call police and paramedics, but Mr Parkin was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.09am.

A suicide note found wrapped around his mobile phone in his pocket read: “I’m sorry I caused all this trouble. Please forgive me, I can’t stand this.”

Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan concluded the inquest into Mr Parkin’s death at the Coroners Court in Hatfield on Thursday.

He said he was satisfied that Mr Parkin had “sadly intended to end his own life”, and recorded a verdict of suicide, with asphyxiation as the cause of death.