A FARMER killed herself after she was wrongly accused of leaving her sheep covered in maggots.
Emma Watson, 43, was found hanged by her mum in a wooded area on her farm in Carr Bank, Staffs.
The farmer had become depressed after an anonymous tip to the RSPCA a few weeks earlier claimed she had been neglecting her flock, an inquest heard.
However, when an inspector did visit the farm he found no cause for concern and the individual sheep reported on was in “good condition”, the Stoke Sentinel reports.
Staffordshire County Council inspector Paul Mills visited Miss Watson in June last year.
I was happy there were no welfare concerns for the animals.
The farmer said she was aware of one sheep having a flystrike – when flies lay their eggs on animals and they turn into maggots – but it had been treated and she checked on her flock every day.
Mr Mills told the hearing: “I explained the reason for my visit and she started to get upset.
“After I reassured her I was only following up the complaint, she became calmer.”
Mr Mills added: “I was happy there were no welfare concerns for the animals.”
Miss Watson’s mum Isabel called the council the following month and it was confirmed that there were no issues with sheep and a routine inspection would be carried out in October.
But the farmer became stressed about “having to go through all the animal records” and “things seemed to be getting on top of her”, Mrs Watson told the hearing.
The next morning Mrs Watson went to work at Alton Towers leaving her daughter at the farm.
Emma was always a very dedicated worker. She was very committed to the farm.
She told the inquest: “She seemed a bit upset. I asked her if I should phone work and stay at home with her but she said ‘no’.”
But when she returned in the evening Mrs Watson searched the farm but could not find her daughter – and assumed she had gone out.
The next morning she went on a thorough search of the farm and grounds and found her body in a wooded area.
Miss Watson, who had a degree in ecology, had no history of depression or anxiety.
Her mum said: “Emma was always a very dedicated worker. She was very committed to the farm.”
Recording the cause of death of hanging, senior coroner Andrew Barkley described Miss Watson’s passing as a “total tragedy”.
He concluded: “The only clear indication from the evidence as to why this happened appears to be the anxiety caused by this inspection, caused by a complaint to the RSPCA about the condition of one sheep.”
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
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