A DAD-OF-TWO shot himself at his parents’ New Forest home after being hounded with ‘threatening’ messages from an old family friend, an inquest heard.

A coroner refused to give details of the messages received by professional musician Neil Zebedee, 44, in the time before his death on September 25 last year. He also said the matter which gave rise to the messages was “too personal” to go into.

However, the court heard Mr Zebedee’s wife of 18 years, Stephanie, became aware he had been receiving the contact around two weeks before his death.

She told the inquest: “The first I knew was that I got a message from this friend to say Neil had ‘secrets’ and I needed to speak to him.”

Mr and Mrs Zebedee, of Manor Road in Verwood, then had a conversation about the messages which left them both “deeply upset”. Mrs Zebedee said she was “devastated” and her husband was “very upset and very apologetic”.

The couple agreed to stay together despite their conversation. The person behind the messages then sent a slew of social media posts to other friends, which led to Mr Zebedee’s musical partner refusing to perform with him. The parents of a child who took piano lessons with Mr Zebedee also stopped her seeing him.

On September 24, Mrs Zebedee received a message from a long-standing female friend who said Mr Zebedee had told her he planned to take his own life. In the message to the woman, he said: “By the time you read this, I’ll be dead anyway.”

He was found attempting to commit suicide in a remote area of North Dorset. He was taken to Salisbury District Hospital, where Dr William Thomasson, a junior doctor with two years’ experience, assessed him as being at ‘low risk’ of suicide or self-harm. Senior consultant Dr Rachel Oaten confirmed she believed the patient was at low risk, despite not seeing Mr Zebedee herself.

He was discharged to the care of his family that night, although no conversation was had with his wife about the plans for him.

Mrs Zebedee took him and taken to his parents’ home in Broxhill, Fordingbridge. The following morning, Mr Zebedee found one of his father’s shotguns in an outbuilding. The gun wasn’t locked away as Mr Zebedee senior used it to shoot vermin at the property.

Shortly after talking to both of his parents, he fired the weapon. A pathologist found he had died of catastrophic head injuries.

Mr Zebedee was not known to mental health services or police, although one PC who gave evidence during the hearing said he had “some misdemeanours with other people – personal matters.”

Police investigated the messages sent to Mr and Mrs Zebedee. A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, although a decision was made not to charge the person responsible with any offences.

Assistant coroner Grant Davies heard changes have been implemented at Salisbury District Hospital in direct response to Mr Zebedee’s death.

“Messages were sent by social media of a very personal nature with threats of disclosure,” he said.

“What is relevant to me is the effect this had on Neil.”

He recorded a conclusion of suicide.