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HomeFarming NewsSheep farmer took her own life weeks after animal welfare complaint
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Sheep farmer took her own life weeks after animal welfare complaint

A 43-year-old farmer took her own life just weeks after an anonymous complaint was made to an animal welfare charity about her flock.

According to Stroke on Trent Live, the RSPCA received a report in relation to one of Emma Watson’s sheep.

An inspector visited the farm to investigate the matter and he concluded that he was “happy there were no welfare concerns for her animals”.

Staffordshire County Council inspector Paul Mills, who had visited the farm, on June 28th, 2019 said: “An anonymous complaint had been made regarding a sheep covered in maggots. It was referred from the RSPCA.”

‘She started to get upset’

“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.”

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Her mother later telephoned the council on July 3rd, 2019 and it was agreed that a routine inspection would be carried out in October.

In a statement, her mother said that on August 8th, 2019 she noticed her daughter was worried.

Mrs Watson said: “Emma seemed down. An inspector had made an appointment to come and check the animals. Things seemed to be getting on top of her.”

“We went to bed at 10.30pm. Emma had been talking about having to go through all the animal records.”

‘A total tragedy’

Emma went to work the following day, but when her mother returned later that evening, her daughter was not at home, which led to the assumption that she had gone out.

The following morning, Mrs Watson discovered her daughter’s body in a wooded area. The cause of death was recorded as hanging, according to the publication.

She had no previous medical history of anxiety or depression.

He death has been described as “a total tragedy” by senior coroner, Andrew Barkley.

“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.” Barkley concluded.

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