A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide after 47-year-old was found dead with his rifle beside him.

A CHULMLEIGH man had threatened to commit suicide to several friends and family before shooting himself with a rifle, an inquest heard.

Mark Drayton, a professional gamekeeper, had even demonstrated to his friend the night before his death how he would kill himself.

Jeremy Hagar told the inquest how he had walked Mr Drayton home because he was concerned for him after he had been drinking at a wedding reception the two of them had been to.

That evening, on April 27, the 47-year-old had retrieved his rifle and demonstrated to Mr Hagar how he would kill himself, saying: “I’ll do it.”

His son, Christopher Drayton, said a recent break up from his partner had been playing on his father’s mind.

He said: “As time progressed he said on many occasions he was prepared to commit suicide.

“He told me he had the gun out on five occasions and was ‘this close’ to doing it.”

His last contact with his father was on the morning of his death on April 28, when they spoke on the phone.

Mr Drayton was discovered dead on his living room floor that night at Densham Farm in Ashreighney with his rifle beside him.

Catherine Cole, who also lived on the farm, discovered his body after becoming concerned for his welfare and finding the curtains drawn and the door to his house open.

Paramedics were called to the scene along with the police and Mr Drayton was pronounced dead at 10pm.

A post-mortem later concluded he had died from a single bullet wound to the head.

Deputy coroner John Tomalin recorded a verdict of suicide and said: “I am sure with his knowledge of guns he knew what would be the outcome of his actions.”