A PRISONER who was found dead in his cell at a North-East prison claimed he was being bullied over a drug debt.

John Collins, 29, who was being held at Durham Prison, took his own life on October 27, 2016.

A Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report into his death, published this week, expressed concern about the availability of illicit drugs at Durham.

Mr Collins, who was on remand accused of making threats to kill and being in possession of an explosive, had a history of severe alcohol abuse and drug use and prior to his death had reported feeling unsafe.

He told staff he had self-harmed because he was in debt and said he could hear other prisoners shouting at him.

He also claimed to have swallowed razor blades, though there was no evidence of this, the report added.

He told a member of the mental health team that he was "paranoid" because of a debt to another prisoner, but would not name him.

Days before he died, he was assaulted by a cell mate, who hit him over the head with flask while he was allegedly under the influence of an illicit substance.

The report concluded while they found no evidence that he was in debt or being bullied, it is not possible to say whether his actions were influenced by drug use or by a fear of violence.

Nigel Newcomen, its author, said: "I do not consider that staff at Durham could have predicted that Mr Collins intended to take his own life when he did.

"Although Mr Collins said he was in debt and being bullied, he would not provide further details and we can find no evidence to support this claim although illicit drugs are clearly a problem at the prison.

"I am also concerned that the investigation found deficiencies in Durham's emergency response."

His report says the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) was called ten minutes after Mr Collins was found in his cell.