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Farmer took her own life after complaint to RSPCA

Emma Watson had been upset by an anonymous complaint to the RSPCA. An inspector confirmed there were no issues with the flock’s welfare

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Farmer took her own life after complaint to RSPCA

A Staffordshire farmer took her own life after an anonymous complaint to the RSPCA over the welfare of one of her sheep.

 

An inquest has heard how Emma Watson, 43, was upset by an anonymous report regarding a sheep covered in maggots.

 

Her body was found by her mother in woods on the Oakamoor farm, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where they lived.

Her inquest was told she had been upset about the report despite an inspector confirming there were no issues with the flock’s welfare.

 

Staffordshire County Council inspector Paul Mills visited the farm on June 28.

 

His statement said he had received an anonymous report regarding a sheep covered in maggots, referred from the RSPCA.

 

“When I arrived I saw Emma Watson. I explained the reason for my visit and she started to get upset.

 

"She said she checked the sheep every day and was only aware of one sheep with flystrike and was adamant it had been treated. After I reassured her I was only following up the complaint, she became calmer."

 

Mr Mills examined the animals and said he was happy there were no welfare concerns.

 

Miss Watson’s mother, Isabel, called the council on July 3 where it was confirmed there were no major issues and a routine inspection would be carried out in October.

 

Her mother found her body in a wooded area in August 2019.

 

Senior coroner Andrew Barkley described Miss Watson’s death as ‘a total tragedy’.

 

Concluding her death was suicide, he said: "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.

 

"Flystrike will strike very quickly and that is no indication of a lack of care. The inspector indicated he clearly had no concern for that sheep or any other.

 

"It played disproportionately on her mind. Her mother said she was anxious about this and having to check animal records."

Sources of help

Sources of help
  • DPJ Foundation helpline 0800 5874 262 and information on access to mental health awareness training can be found here.
  • You Are Not Alone (YANA) - call their helpline 0300 323 0400 or email helpline@yanahelp.org
  • Farming Community Network (FCN) - confidential helpline 03000 111 999 open 7am to 11pm every day of year or email help@fcn.org.uk
  • Samaritans - confidential helpline 116 113 open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year or email jo@samaritans.org
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