Dairy farmer took life over grief and responsibility for farm
A DAIRY farmer's son was so devastated by the death of his father and the responsibilities he would have to shoulder that he shot himself three days later.
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: "Philip was always there for his father.".
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She said that after Melville's health deteriorated in January, Philip took on more and more of the work on the farm.
"On the day he died, Melville went out as usual and worked all morning on the farm," she said.
"He told one of the reps he saw that day that he was not feeling very well but he didn't say anything to me.
"He came home for lunch and sat down to have a cup of tea, but then Philip shouted that he had fainted again. He started pumping his heart while I phoned for an ambulance.
"The paramedics carried on with CPR when they arrived but they told us he had died."
On June 1, Philip was also found dead, she said. He was very close to his dad and would have had to take over all the work on the farm as well as helping care for his brother David.
"This, together with his grief was what caused his death," she added. GP Dr Christopher Morton said Melville had high blood pressure but it had been stable and well-controlled.
"He had a collapse in January and was taken into hospital but tests could not find anything wrong," he said.
"I also learned that he had had another collapse when a passenger in a car.
"He was an active farmer despite his years, milking cattle every day. He was capable and tough. It seems likely he had an acute heart arrhythmia, which leaves little trace."
Pathologist Dr John McCarthy agreed and said that under a microscope he found that Mr Walton's heart was enlarged. Three days after Mr Walton's death, his daughter Daphne could not find Philip and went looking for him.
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."
She started looking around the farm and found Philip lying in woodland on the edge of the garden with a shotgun by his side.
PC Simon Laird was called to the scene and said there was a single shotgun wound and no signs of anything suspicious.
"His father had died three days before and the shock of that loss plus the pressure of having to run the farm upset him," he said. Dr Morton told the inquest he had been to the farm after Melville Walton's death to see how the family was coping and Philip had seemed withdrawn.
"He was a very steady character though and I thought 'Thank goodness he is here'," he said. "I did not pick up any sign that he was depressed."
Summing up, Mrs Skerrett said Melville Walton's heart had been weakened by his high blood pressure and he had died from natural causes.
There was enough evidence to record a verdict that Philip Walton intended to take his own life, she added.