The father of a well-respected and talented vet has paid tribute to his “extraordinary” son.

Jamie Stewart, who lived near Barnard Castle, died tragically in April.

An inquest into the death of the 34-year-old was held in Crook yesterday (Wednesday).

Describing him as extraordinary and paying tribute to his humour, father Michael Stewart said: “His humility, generosity and deep honest decency will always be a reminder to us of the grace with which he lived.

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“The esteem in which he was held by so many is a comfort and a consolation to us and we know how widely appreciated and how much he was loved.”

Speaking during the hearing, he said he had been overwhelmed by the comments made about his son.

Among the tributes paid to Mr Stewart were that he was generous and charming, brilliant and empathetic, loyal and genuine and a good friend.

A well-known and hard-working veterinarian surgeon, Mr Stewart lived in Ovington, in Teesdale, near the border with North Yorkshire and worked at Mile House Veterinary Centre in Northallerton.

The Northern Echo: Jamie Stewart riding at Zetland point to pointJamie Stewart riding at Zetland point to point

The inquest heard he died on the B6274 between Staindrop and Gainford on April 2 this year.

He had been driving home after viewing a horse he was planning to buy in Lanchester, followed by dinner and drinks, when his van crashed into a wall near the John Dickinson Transport depot.

John Dickinson, who had gone out to assist him and said he would get his forklift to try and dislodge the van from the wall, told the inquest Mr Stewart had appeared uninjured and calm following the crash.

However, when he returned a short while later he discovered Mr Stewart dead on the ground.

He had appeared to be in good spirits on the evening of his death, friends said.

However, the court heard there may have been several factors impacting his emotional state, including that he had recently put down his horse due to a degenerative condition and had ended a relationship some months previously.  

He had also been facing prosecution for a driving offence in North Yorkshire and already have nine points on his licence – something which had the potential to impact on his career.

He had been drinking whisky and ginger ale during the evening but did not appear to be drunk, a friend told officers. A toxicology report found he had 149mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – above the legal limit of 80mg/100ml.

The inquest heard Mr Stewart worked extremely long hours and could travel up to 250 miles a day. He had started a new job in January but was tired due to the long hours, his mother Pamela said in a statement.

She said: “His career mattered massively to him. That he could lose his licence was hugely upsetting.

“On the night of the accident my thought was he had fallen asleep at the wheel. I think he panicked with the driving situation.”

Friend and farrier John Brannen, with whom Mr Stewart had worked, said he had been under pressure for some time and had been working seven days a week at his previous job at Oaklands Equine Hospital, in Yarm, Teesside last year.

James Thompson, assistant coroner for County Durham and Darlington, said he believed Mr Stewart had acted impulsively.

He said: “He recognised that collision would have consequences for him with his employers, the police or the court, I think that combined with the emotional state regarding the end of a relationship and the loss of his horse mean he acted in a particular way.

“The only appropriate conclusion is one of suicide.”

He added: “I can’t begin to articulate what a tragedy Jamie’s death is. He was a professional man who is clearly well loved not just by his friends and family but those he assisted in a professional capacity.”

* Samaritans runs a free 24 hour helpline, 365 days a year, on 116123 or email Or visit

The Northern Echo: Vet Jamie Stewart at work Vet Jamie Stewart at work

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