THE death of a woman – originally believed to have been murdered – has been ruled a mystery by a coroner.

Pauline Jackson, 48, was found dead at her home in Rudd Street, Haslingden, on December 9.

At the time, a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder, but following post mortem and toxicology examinations, the charges were dropped as no exact cause of death could be established, a hearing was told yesterday.

Coroner James Newman told the inquest in Burnley that on the night before her death, Ms Jackson had been in bed with her partner Theo Rush.

On December 9 he woke around noon and made some phone calls to borrow money from friends so he could buy drugs.

Mr Newman said: “He left the house and then returned and got back into bed. When he woke up again at around 3pm, he found Pauline was unresponsive.

“He contacted a neighbour who called the ambulance but she was pronounced dead by paramedics.”

A post mortem examination found a large number of external bruises on Ms Jackson’s body, some fresh and some ageing, as well as a black eye.

Toxicology reports also showed there was cocaine in her system.

Mr Newman said that the bruises were consistent with a physical altercation but there was not enough evidence to say this caused her death.

He said: “Given the toxicology findings there’s a possibility she experienced acute cardiac arrhythmia, but this can’t be said for certain, and I am reluctant to offer this as a cause of death based on the balance of probabilities.”

Ms Jackson’s family asked at the hearing if it was possible she had been strangled – but Mr Newman said there was no evidence to suggest this.

They also raised concerns about her bruising and questioned whether she had been assaulted, saying that when they last saw her, on the Friday before her death, she had no visible bruising to her face or body and seemed in good spirits.

Mr Newman said Mr Rush had told their neighbour, Sara Belcher, who called the ambulance, that he and Ms Jackson had had a fallout and she had ‘seen the worst side of him’. The inquest also heard he had told another neighbour he had strangled her.

He said: “In Ms Belcher’s statement she said Theo was walking round the house screaming, and she tried to get some answers out of him as to what happened but he wasn’t speaking. He was calm one minute then crying the next.”

Det Insp Martin Melvin told the inquest that when he arrived at the property the house was extremely untidy.

He said it appeared there had been "a disturbance" in the bedroom and he was concerned something had happened.

He said: “She had a lot of bruising and injuries and following a consultation with colleagues we saw fit to arrest Theo Rush on suspicion of murder.

“Mr Rush entered no comment to all questions and the charges were later dropped. There was no evidence of strangulation at all.”

Mr Newman said he had concerns about what happened but did not think they would ever get an answer.

He said: “There was no medical evidence to corroborate the charges and no evidence to say that her injuries caused her death.

"Mr Rush was questioned about the bruises and responded with no comment.

“It appears that there was an assault but we can’t say that this was the cause of her death or who the perpetrator was.

“I have to return an open conclusion and say Ms Jackson’s death is unascertained.”