A Nelson nurse, said to have murdered three elderly patients, died from a massive drugs overdose before she could stand trial.

An inquest into the death of suspected killer Anne Grigg-Booth yesterday concluded the 52-year accidentally took up to eight times the recommended dose of anti-depressant mirtazapine.

The 52-year-old, who was to stand trial this month charged with three murders, attempted murder and 13 counts of unlawfully administering poison was found dead after police broke into her Henry Street home, Nelson, on August 29.

The inquest at Burnley magistrates was told the former matron plunged into alcoholism when she was suspended from Airedale General Hospital near Keighley.

London-born Grigg-Booth split from her husband Paul Booth in 2003 after bailiffs turned up to boot them out of the family home in Cowling. She was responsible for the family finances, the court heard.

Mr Booth, a former nurse and teacher, told the hearing how the couple had been married for over 20 years but life had become intolerable because of her drinking.

He told the court how he insisted Grigg-Booth who had to be assessed by a police psychologist when quizzed about the deaths was represented by a solicitor following her arrest in September 2004.

He said: "She was probably under as much pressure as you could put someone under. But things were becoming easier because the trial was coming closer.

"I feel quite strongly from what I know in my view it was going to be a favourable outcome."

Maria McEwan, of Cowling, a friend for more than 25 years said Grigg-Booth, who always protested her innocence, was confident she would be acquitted.

Pathologist Dr John Rutherford told the court people normally had to take 28 times the recommended dose of mirtazapine to die, but Grigg-Booth's poor liver caused by heavy drinking and paracetamol in her system could have caused an overdose from a much lower amount of drugs.

East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor ruled out suicide and recorded a verdict of accidental death.