Shotgun death man was a ‘tortured soul’, inquest told

By Lisa O'Brien | Craven Arms | News | Published:

A man who shot himself after a stand-off with police has been described as a “tortured soul who could see no way out”.

James Massey, 35, died in the courtyard of his home in Hungerford, near Craven Arms, on December 10 last year.

An inquest into his death, which is being held before a jury at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall, heard yesterday that armed police got to the scene at about 3am.

They were responding to a call from his partner that he had a gun and was threatening to kill himself.

The armed officers started negotiations with Mr Massey, before a trained negotiator, Detective Sergeant Beth Wells, took over at about 4.30am.

Ms Wells told the inquest that Mr Massey was agitated when she arrived and he had a shotgun pressed to his chin.

She said: “James told me he had been working all hours on the farm just to make ends meet and he couldn’t do it any more.”

Mr Massey told her he had caught his partner texting another man and the messages were “sexual”.

She said he told her his relationship was breaking up again, but spoke warmly of his children and “passionately” about his hobby of shooting.


Ms Wells said he was worried about police taking away his guns, but she tried to offer reassurances and reduce his anxiety.

The inquest was told that he had requested to see his father, brother and boss, but it was decided that this may make him more likely to harm himself.

Ms Wells said Mr Massey also told her he had been depressed for 12 months but had not told his GP because he was worried that his guns would be taken away.

She said he had briefly paused, when she believed he was sobering up and needed a moment to think, but then shot himself.


The officer told the inquest that Mr Massey was “a tortured soul who could see no way out”.

The inquest heard that the negotiation should have been recorded by DS Wells, who believed she had turned on her device, but no recording was found.

A review found this was down to “human error”.

Sergeant Darren Hayes and Pc Grant Court were the first officers on the scene. Mr Hayes told the inquest they built up a rapport with Mr Massey, however he asked the officers several times to shoot him.

The inquest continues.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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