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Tideford family man shot himself after telling pal: 'Tell my boys I love them', inquest hears

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 18, 2013

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A RESPECTED family man from Tideford was found dead in a field with shotgun wounds to his head, an inquest has heard.

The body of Matthew Hemming, 49, was discovered by his son Ross in a field close to their family home on St Luke's Terrace at 6.40am on August 16 this year.

Truro Coroner's Court heard yesterday that the popular builder and shooting enthusiast had begun to suffer with depression, and had an argument with his wife Helen the night before his body was found.

However, both Mrs Hemming and Ross told the court that Mr Hemming had not intended to take his own life and his death was a "tragic accident" and a "cry for help gone wrong".

A post-mortem examination revealed he had drunk more than twice the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol before he died, which would have "impaired cognitive function".

Mrs Hemming said: "We were his world and Matthew would never leave us. I feel the event on August 15 was a tragic accident fuelled by drink."

Ross, who was training to be a Royal Marine, added: "I would say it was a cry for help that's gone wrong. He had depression in the past and he was such a proud man that he didn't want to admit that he was depressed, and that he wanted a bit of help."

Father of two Mr Hemming, a former choir singer, farmer and shop fitter, began to suffer with low mood after he stopped working, despite an enjoyable holiday to Portugal in 2012 with his wife.

The inquest heard he had also been feeling low due to continuing confrontations with a neighbour over where he parked his motorbike.

The night before his body was discovered, he had gone to the local pub, the Rod and Line, where Mrs Hemming worked as a barmaid.

After drinking several pints of cider, he had a "little argument" with his wife and accused her of not loving him.

He returned home at around 9.30pm where son Ross heard him rummaging around for the keys to his gun cabinet.

Ross told the court: "He was saying, 'I'm done, I'm done'. He said that mum didn't love him." Mr Hemming later left the house and phoned pal Jesse Earl in tears at around 10pm saying: "Tell the boys I love them. I'm going."

A neighbour heard a gunshot from a nearby field at around 11pm and Ross discovered his father's body as he walked the family dogs at 6.40am.

Recording an open verdict, coroner Emma Carlyon said she was not "sure" that Mr Hemming had intended to kill himself, due to his drinking and mental state.

She said: "No one was there [when he died]. No one knows what was in his mind."

The cause of death was said to be a gunshot trauma to the head, combined with ill effects of alcohol.

Paying tribute to her husband after the inquest, Mrs Hemming said: "He was a respected and loving family man."