A GRANDMOTHER died at her Southampton home after receiving injuries equivalent to being in a car crash, an inquest heard.

Stephanie Wearn, 57, who lived with her partner Robert Green, died at her Redbridge flat in July after suffering internal bleeding caused by blows to her stomach.

Green, 38, who had initially alerted neighbours after he claimed Ms Wearn had collapsed at their shared flat in Pat Bear Close, was later arrested and charged with her murder.

But while on remand awaiting trial, Green, who denied the murder, was found hanged at Winchester Prison.

An inquest at Southampton Coroner's Court into Ms Wearn's death heard how a lengthy police inquiry had been set up, in which more than 20 officers were involved and 108 witness statements were taken.

Det Insp Jason Hogg, of Southampton's major crime team, told the inquest how Green had previously been violent in a relationship with her daughter Leah Feeney, who died from an epileptic fit.

In a statement, Ms Wearn's daughter Rachel Vaudreuil described how on one occasion she found her mother cowering under Green on the kitchen floor of her flat.

Det Insp Hogg told the inquest how Ms Wearn's former husband Philip Richards was concerned that Green controlled her so much that she would stay in her flat for days on end.

On the night before the murder Ms Wearn had stayed with Mr Richards until early in the morning while Green stayed at a friend's flat, it was said.

Green spent the next day drinking before returning to the flat in the evening, the coroner was told.

Det Insp Hogg said: "Green said that about an hour after he arrived home, Ms Wearn collapsed like a sack of potatoes. He said he attempted resuscitation but could not revive her. All the fingerprints found in the flat came back to Green. Fibres from the jumper Ms Wearn was wearing at the time were found on the boots and socks of Green."

Home office pathologist Dr Alan Anscombe, who examined Ms Wearn's body, said: "What has happened is an impact to the stomach wall - the result of a stamp or a heavy kick. The other situation one can find this injury is in a car crash, giving an indication of the severity."

Southampton coroner Keith Wiseman recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

After the hearing Mrs Vaudreuil, 33, said: "I'm very satisfied with the verdict. At least it says she was killed. I'll remember as always being there and she is still with us in spirit."