A pig farmer facing allegations of animal cruelty took his own life while in a disturbed state of mind, a coroner has ruled.

The body of Norfolk pig farmer Stephen Brown, 52, was discovered on a track near Harling Farm, Thetford on 15 February.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said a postmortem examination revealed he died from a severe head injury due to a shotgun blast.

He recorded a verdict of suicide while in a disturbed state of mind.

Mr Brown’s body was found by his father, just days after footage was released by an animal rights group apparently showing pigs at the farm being beaten and kicked.

The RSPCA is investigating the footage, filmed by animal rights group Animal Equality.

An undercover investigator gathered more than 200 hours of footage and 300 photographs over two months last summer.

Following his death, Mr Brown’s family released a statement paying tribute to him.

“Stephen was a genuine, honest, sensitive, warm hearted and caring man,” it said.

“Hard working and motivational, he was an inspiration and touched the lives of so many. He will be sorely missed.”

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