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Prisoner choked on a cardboard, inquest told
AN arsonist found dead in his North-East prison cell choked on a piece of cardboard, an inquest has been told.
Pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper said Paul Nicholson, 55, died as a result of the blockage of his airways.
His body was found in his cell at Frankland Prison, near Durham City, last January, six weeks after he was jailed for setting fire to his bail hostel.
Dr Cooper said: “People tend to collapse within minutes of the brain being deprived of oxygen.
“The more complete the blockage, the quicker the collapse and the quicker the death after that.”
Nicholson was imprisoned by Teesside Crown Court for starting a fire in ground-floor flat where he was living, in South Bank, Middlesbrough, on Saturday, October 29, using a cardboard box.
He had been released from prison on licence two months earlier, part-way through a three-year jail sentence imposed in August 2010 for trying to burn down a block of flats where he was living, in Guisborough, east Cleveland.
The hearing at Crook Civic Centre, before a jury, heard Nicholson, who had a history of alcohol abuse, had been suffering from a stomach ulcer and cirrhosis of the liver.
But Dr Cooper said these were ‘incidental’ and were unlikely to have caused his death.
A second piece of cardboard was found in Nicholson’s stomach.
Dr Cooper said: “People do occasionally inhale foreign objects in their bodies entirely by mistake.
“I don’t think I can say for definite that it was a deliberate act. It could have been an accident, but I don’t think it is very likely.”
The hearing continues.