A SOUTHAMPTON woman died of a drug overdose after she and her casual boyfriend injected a mixture of heroin and crack cocaine.

Jamie Nicholson awoke in the bedroom of his flat in Millbrook Road East on the evening of June 13 to find Belinda Dalby’s body lying next to him, with a computer cord knotted around her neck, an inquest heard.

Believing he had killed her, the 30-year-old took an overdose of anti-depressants, cut his wrists and turned himself into the police, telling them: “I’m guilty, I did it.”

Nicholson told detectives he had no memory of how the 26-year-old had died, but denied wanting to hurt her or that they had indulged in sex games.

PC Simon Spencer’s statement, read to the inquest into Miss Dalby’s death, told how he had found blood splattered around the flat: “There was a mattress in the middle of the room and various items all around. Her body was covered by a sheet.”

Mr Nicholson was arrested and charged with Belinda's murder, but the allegation was dropped when toxicology tests found high levels of heroin and cocaine in her blood. A postmortem examination also concluded that she had not been strangled, and her death was caused by drug use.

The court heard that Miss Dalby, who worked as a prostitute, had been violently raped by a client two months earlier in an attack which left her having to walk with crutches.

Case officer DS Mark Huxford said that CCTV footage had showed Mr Nicholson and Miss Dalby as being alone together in his flat from the evening of June 12 until late the following afternoon.

“They had a casual sexual relationship and sometimes shared drugs,” he said.

“He sometimes went out to protect her from other prostitutes who bullied her.

“He can’t remember what happened all night. He says he must have done this but doesn’t remember how.”

Recording a verdict of death by drug use, senior central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short said that Miss Dalby had already taken some drugs before she went up to Mr Nicholson’s flat that night: “I can only suspect that she wasn’t counting on having a further score or heroin and cocaine on that occasion.

“She was clearly a vulnerable adult as a street walker.”