Friends of an 81-year-old man were worried when they found that his hens were still locked up they visited him at his home in Ingleton on the afternoon of December 7.

When Phillip Sutcliffe knocked on John Brass’s door, he heard a snoring noise, coroner Rob Turnbull was told at an inquest in Skipton, Entering the house in Beck Crook, Mr Sutcliffe realised the noise was coming from the bathroom. He found Mr Brass lying on the floor with a rifle next to him.

Mr Brass was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary by air ambulance but died the following day.

Detective Sergeant Alan Browne said Mr Brass, who had recently lost his wife, may have been concerned about his own declining health. The coroner was also told that Mr Brass suffered from hypertension, had suffered a number of falls and was depressed.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Brass died from a gunshot wound to the head and recorded a verdict that he took his own life.