Biddestone horse expert killed himself after his Twitter spoof was outed (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Biddestone horse expert killed himself after his Twitter spoof was outed
4:02pm Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
An assistant manager at a prestigious stud yard hanged himself after he was outed as the author of a humorous Twitter account parodying the Queen's racing manager, an inquest heard today.
Father-of-one Derek Larkin, 32, who worked at Biddestone Stud, near Chippenham, was found dead in a barn just days after an anonymous source accused him of creating the spoof site poking fun at Lord John Warren.
The profile had been active for around a year and posted regular jokes about the racing world along with quips about celebrities and the royal family.
It also made light of the supposed "self-importance" of Lord Warren, who regularly entertains the Queen at his Highclere Stud in Berkshire.
Mr Larkin, who ran the account with financier friend James Morgan, had become increasingly "frantic" following an anonymous email naming him as the Twitter account holder.
Despite assurances from his employers, and the promise of legal help, Mr Larkin feared he would lose his job and family and he hanged himself.
Speaking after an inquest today his wife Laura said Mr Larkin took his life to "save his family from the shame, he thought, he had brought upon himself and the stud he worked at".
She said: "Following a sequence of events that cost my husband's life I know Derek took his life in the misguided belief we would all be better off without him.
"He felt he had let us all down, this was the only way he could see to save his family from the shame, he thought, he had brought upon himself and the stud he worked at.
"However, misguided it was a pure act of love and care on his part. We will never forget Derek and will always miss him. He will always be in our hearts and his legacy lives on in his darling daughter."
The email naming Mr Larkin was sent to a number of high profile members in the racing community in late March last year.
Mr Larkin initially denied being involved in the account and ran to managers to clear his name of any involvement.
Despite their support and belief in him, as more and more emails began to filter through Mr Larkin because increasingly stressed.
The inquest, in Salisbury, heard today he told close friend James Morgan he would lose "his job, his wife and his home" as a result.
Mr Morgan, a bloodstock manager for Capital Bloodstock Investments, told the inquest: "He text me very early in the morning saying 'I have been rumbled' and that was it.
"I asked him what happened and he said someone had told a couple of agents it was him behind the account.
"It was really worrying him. He had never been like this before, this was frantic."
The inquest heard Mr Larkin continued to deny all involvement in the account and rang Mr Morgan multiple times over the following days, each time getting more and more agitated.
"He thought he was going to lose his job, his wife and his home. He wanted me to clear his name," he added.
"I told him he needed to come clean and that I was going to come clean with him. I offered to come down to Biddestone to take it with him but he refused."
But the inquest was told that, under the impression he had let his family down, Mr Larkin went to a remote barn and hanged himself.
The inquest was told that Mr Larkin also made many visits to his manager Ian Bradbury after the initial email - sent from an untraceable French vet - emerged.
Mr Bradbury told the hearing: ''He was very upset, he denied everything and said it was nothing to do with him.
"I said his best option was to go to managing director of the stud Tim Bostwick to explain the situation, which he did on his own."
The manager also offered Mr Larkin the option of a lawyer to talk his situation through, but he refused.
Just two days later, on April 3, Mr Larkin was called into a meeting with Mr Bradbury, Mr Bostwick, and wife Gill, and a lawyer where he again denied any involvement.
But after it emerged another email had been sent to Mr Larkin, from James Morgan's employers, implicating him further in the scandal, the meeting became heated and finished abruptly - where Irish born Mr Larkin stormed off.
He returned home to see wife Laura, 39, where he finally revealed that he had been partly responsible for the spoof account.
Mrs Larkin told the inquest: "He came home barely able to talk to me, his mouth was very dry and he had little expression. He just came in and said 'I have got the sack, I am going to lose my job'.
"He said that what he had told me about the Lord John Warren account was a lie and that he had been involved in it.
"He said that he was not the person running it, that that was James Morgan, and that he knew he shouldn't have done it. Then he just said, 'I have to go, I have to go'."
But when Mr Larkin failed to come home Mrs Larkin became worried and a number of people went out to search for her husband.
He was eventually discovered, four hours later, hanging in a barn, in the next village of Slaughterford, by friend Peter Gooding.
Coroner David Ridley, recording that Mr Larkin took his own life, said: "At some point after 4pm on April 3 2013 Derek drove to a remote farm building and hanged himself.
"I am sure the appropriate conclusion is that he took his own life. I don't think we will ever understand what truly went on in Derek's head and why he felt the need to do what he did."