Tyne & Wear

Jillian Grant death: Murderer found dead in prison

Jillian Grant Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Jillian Grant's family said she had an independent spirit and did not let blindness stand in her way

A man who murdered a blind woman on Christmas Day has been found dead in prison.

Mark Smith, 41, from North Tyneside, initially denied killing 38-year-old Jillian Grant, but changed his plea at Newcastle Crown Court.

Ms Grant's body was discovered in a flat on Tennyson Terrace, North Shields, last December.

The Prison Service confirmed Smith, formerly of Tennyson Terrace, died in HMP Durham on 25 June.

His sentencing, scheduled for 20 June, had been adjourned for psychiatric assessments.

"As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman," a Prison Service spokesperson said.

Smith had previously admitted the attempted murder of his parents in an arson attack in Heaton, Newcastle.

Ms Grant, from York Court, Wallsend, had been involved with charity work.

Her family said she had been an "independent spirit - she didn't let blindness stand in her way".

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