AN inquest has been told of the last hours in the life of a mental health worker who was stabbed to death in a knife attack as she visited a client.

Ashleigh Ewing, 22, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, was stabbed 39 times in Ronald Dixon’s home in Heaton, Newcastle, in May 2006.

An inquest in Newcastle yesterday heard how staff from Miss Ewing’s employer, the charity Mental Health Matters, was called to the scene after a neighbour heard her dying screams.

Detective Sergeant Sean McGuigain, of Northumbria Police, said: “She had gone to work as normal that morning, then had gone by bus to that property.

“She had visited another individual with whom she was working with as part of her employment.

“She was not with him very long and left with a view to go to see Mr Dixon.

“He was the last person to see her alive.”

The inquest heard how forensic evidence showed that Miss Ewing delivered a letter to Mr Dixon, asking him to pay for damage to a phone in the rented flat.

Det Sgt McGuigain told the hearing that Mental Health Matters was alerted to Ashleigh’s plight by the first client she visited, who lived just above Mr Dixon.

Det Sgt McGuigain said: “He heard screams approximately 15 minutes after she left his address.

“At first, he believed the dog had jumped at Ashleigh because she does not like dogs.

“He tried to contact Ashleigh himself, but was unable to do so, and so he rang Mental Health Matters.”

Shortly after police arrived, a Mental Health Matters employee appeared. By then, Dixon had handed himself in at a nearby police station.

Det Sgt McGuigain said evidence suggested that Dixon showered and changed his clothes before handing himself in. When interviewed, he refused to say anything apart from the word “king”.

Dixon, who was described at the inquest as a paranoid schizophrenic, later pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and was detained indefinitely by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court.

In 1994, Dixon had been charged with the attempted murder of his father, who he attacked with a hammer as he slept. He was arrested in 2006 for threatening to kill the Queen.

The inquest continues.