A DOCTOR cleared of murdering one of his patients in a landmark trial has died.

Friends of Dr Dave Moor, 53, say he never fully recovered from the stress of the epic court case.

Dr Moor sparked a nationwide euthanasia debate when he was cleared of the mercy killing of a cancer patient, and received support from hundreds of patients, colleagues and friends after his arrest.

He was acquitted of murdering 85-year-old George Liddell by administering a lethal injection, following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, in May last year.

But the stress of the trial made the father-of-two ill and, just weeks after he was cleared, he was rushed to hospital suffering from internal bleeding.

Dr Moor recovered from his illness, but suffered another blow with the separation from his wife Sylvia, 56.

The separation came after the GP had turned to drink to cope with the stress - which led to a conviction for drink-driving in September last year.

He managed to save his marriage, and the couple moved away from the limelight and his former home in Stamfordham, Northumberland, to the quiet village of Brampton, in Cumbria.

But Dr Moor was rushed to Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary on Friday after suffering a suspected heart attack. He died late on Saturday night. His wife was last night being comforted by relatives.

Dr Moor, who ran a one-man surgery in Fenham, Newcastle, but stopped practising when he was charged in 1997, formally retired a year later.

The outspoken GP had courted the media throughout his medical life and was frequently surrounded by controversy.

He once sparked fury when he campaigned for one patient, model Fiona McAndrew, to have a breast implant on the NHS.

Ms McAndrew, 32, became a close friend and, after his arrest, formed the Friends of Dr Moor support group.

She said: "The stress of the trial took a lot out him. It was a miracle he survived it at all.

"He has been ill for some time and never really recovered from his court ordeal, despite being cleared of any blame.

"I was devastated by news of his death. He was an amazing man, a remarkable GP, and he will be sadly missed."

At one point, Dr Moor had said he was considering a campaigning future which could even include politics.

During the trial, Dr Moor denied murdering retired ambulanceman Mr Liddell with a huge dose of diamorphine, but, after being cleared, said he would do it all again. He said he had no regrets about being charged with murder and would deal with another patient in the same way.

But the trial took its toll and he turned to drink and sank into depression.

Three months later, he was stopped by police after pulling out in front of a patrol car. He was found to be four times over the drink-drive limit.

At the time, his defence solicitor Peter Henry said: "No one can understand what he has been through - it has had a huge effect on him.