A MAN who strangled a young mother with a shoelace has died after being found collapsed in his cell at a North-East high-security prison, it has been revealed.

Killer Paul Culshaw had been was told by a judge that he would never be released from prison after a jury unanimously found him guilty of the sexually-motivated killing Clare Sabear Benson-Jowry.

The 45-year-old from Penrith, Cumbria, was found collapsed in his cell at Frankland Prison, Durham City, on Tuesday.

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He was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, but died early Wednesday – apparently of natural causes.

A jury sitting at Preston Crown Court in February 2005 was told that Ms Benson-Jowry was last seen alive entering the block where Culshaw lived on Austwick Road, Lancaster.

Ms Benson-Jowry was described as an attractive and well-liked young woman, with a drug addiction she had tried to overcome.

Several weeks after her disappearance police found her near-naked remains in a bedroom. She had been strangled with a shoelace tightened by a fork.

Culshaw, who had a previous conviction for attempted murder was told by Mr Justice Hughes: “The overwhelming likelihood is that you killed her to stop her revealing the very serious sexual assault you carried out on her.”

Culshaw, who had lived in Penrith with his wife and lived rough near the town while on the run, had denied murdering the 23-year-old claiming he panicked on finding her dead.

He had previous convictions, including one for rape. He was jailed for three-and-a-half years for the crime in 1985.

Then in 1988, he carried out an attempted murder and indecent assault of a woman, for which he received 10 years.

A Durham Police spokesman said today: “We can confirm that Paul Culshaw was found collapsed in his cell.

“He was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, where he died later the same day.

“Police do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: HMP Frankland prisoner Paul Culshaw was taken to an outside hospital at about 7pm on Tuesday February 5.

“He was pronounced dead at 3.40am on Wednesday.

"He is presumed to have died from natural causes. A post mortem will follow.

"As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation."