An innocent man arrested and accused of killing his new partner after rekindling a childhood “soft spot” has described the ordeal as the worst time of his life.

Jacqueline Anne Ross, 42, was found at bottom of the stairs in her home on Craddock Street in Spennymoor, County Durham on February 27 by her partner Andrew.

Police cordoned off the street and arrested him before he was released without charge when officers found there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.

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An inquest was held into her death at Crook Coroners Court on Tuesday (July 18).

In a statement Andrew told the court: “On the day she passed away I came home from work and popped into the pub for a drink on the way back.

“At about 4.30pm I opened the front door, and I was confronted with Jacqui on the floor – a devastating sight.

“I immediately rushed to her and she told me she tripped from the third step from the bottom. I called an ambulance because I thought she’d banged her head. I picked her up and carried her into the lounge onto the sofa.

“Suddenly she became delirious and was making no sense. I called 999 again to beg for the ambulance to hurry.

“They arrived and started working on her.

“It was the worst time of my life, a partner I totally loved not being able to be revived and then next I was being arrested on suspicion of murder.”

The Northern Echo: The scene on the evening Jacqueline passed away.The scene on the evening Jacqueline passed away. (Image: Gavin Havery)

At the time a spokesperson for Durham Police said: “The man who was arrested has been released with no further action and we are satisfied there are no suspicious circumstances to this death.”

A pathologist’s report concluded Jacqueline’s cause of death was acute bronchopneumonia – a type of chest infection - due to liver failure likely caused by alcohol abuse.

She had fallen down the stairs a day earlier but this was not found to have caused her death.

The inquest heard Jacqueline had a long history of struggles with alcohol and drugs and how she had hidden her alcohol abuse from her new partner.

The Northern Echo: The inquest was held at Crook Coroners Court.The inquest was held at Crook Coroners Court. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Assistant Coroner Dr Leslie Hamilton concluded her death was alcohol related.

Crook Coroners Court heard the couple only got together the previous summer and moved in together having rekindled a friendship from their school days.

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Andrew added: “We went to secondary school together and were friends during that time. I had a soft spot for her but never progressed further than just friends.

“We decided we wanted to be together and made plans to move to Durham to be with Jacqui and both of us were excited about future plans.

“I am truly devastated with the loss of the lady I loved.”

Concluding the inquest Coroner Hamilton said: “I don’t think I can remember a case like this where, as you say, you had finally met up with the woman you adored right from school and you felt things were going in the right direction, and she was hiding her alcohol abuse from you.

“For her to die and then for you to have to go through that trauma – which from the police’s point of view they had to follow up - and you are very understanding.”