Man shot himself in head with DIY pistol

A 77-year-old man shot himself with a homemade pistol after becoming depressed and turning to drink, an inquest heard.

Gerald Dann, from Leavenheath, told a neighbour he was having thoughts about killing himself before being found dead on Boxing Day.

During an inquest on Tuesday, coroner Dr Peter Dean said Mr Dann’s body was discovered lying face up in the garden of his home in Honey Tye with a pistol by his feet.

Neighbour Sally Correia had heard a gun shot and called 999 after seeing the retired bricklayer’s body.

In a written statement, Detective Sergeant Stuart Jeans said: “The pistol was lying close to his left foot.

“The firearm had a homemade appearance, but had been put together with some skill. There was serious trauma around the ear.”

Mr Dann’s brother, Peter, with whom he lived, said he had recently taken to drinking and had been acting strangely.

A police search of the house uncovered live shotgun cartridges, a rifle and a wooden pole with the butt of a shotgun attached.

Mr Dean said an investigation had revealed no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

“The police report says it was believed he had become depressed, consumed alcohol and made the decision to take his own life,” he said.

In a statement, Mrs Correia said Mr Dann was a kind man, but had spoken of feeling down.

The inquest heard Peter Dann told police his brother had begun brewing wine, but he had no idea what was about to happen.

Mr Dean said the pair had sat down for dinner on Christmas Day, with Mr Dann going to bed at 6pm. His brother woke the next morning when he heard shouting from neighbours.

“Peter told police he did not know there were guns in the house,” said Mr Dean.

Pathologist Dr Sheila Purdy found Mr Dann died from a gunshot wound to the head and had 86 milligrammes of alcohol in his blood.

Recording an open verdict, Mr Dean said he could not rule out the possibility the pistol, made from tools in Mr Dann’s shed, had “discharged accidentally”.

“Clearly he had expressed feeling low in the period leading up to his death, but there was no specific intention expressed of suicide,” he said.