A prisoner who claimed he was being bullied over a drug debt was found dead in his cell.
John Collins told staff at HMP Durham that he “felt under threat” and heard other inmates shouting at him.
Days before he took his own life, his cell mate hit him with a flask in a drug-induced attack.
“He believed he had been assaulted because he was in debt,” a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report into his death said.
Collins died aged 29 on October 27, 2016 while on remand over threats to kill and possession of an explosive.
The watchdog said it found no evidence of bullying or a drug debt, but added: “It is not possible to say whether Mr Collins’ actions were influenced either directly by drug use or by a fear of violence resulting from drug-related debt.”
The report said Collins had been diagnosed with a personality disorder while battling drug and alcohol abuse.
In the weeks leading to his death, he had self-harmed and claimed he felt “paranoid”.
“He was in debt to another prisoner but would not name him,” stated the report.
“He said he self-harmed as a ‘cry for help’. He said he did not want to die and had no further thoughts of self-harm.”
Staff at the prison assessed Collins as being low risk of suicide.
Bosses moved him onto a different wing after he made the drug debt claims.
But it was on the new wing he was attacked in his sleep, leaving him severely injured.
While there was no evidence of Spice (NPS) in his system, the report states health staff were concerned in the days before his death that he was under the influence.
The report added: “The assault on Mr Collins by his cell mate does suggest, though, that drugs were present.
“The post-mortem found evidence that Mr Collins had illicitly acquired prescription drugs but did not indicate any use of NPS.
“However, the forensic pathologist indicated it was entirely possible Mr Collins had used NPS prior to his death and this had not showed up in the tests.”
Following his death, the watchdog has made a string of recommendations to the prison – including ensuring staff “are vigilant to signs” of Spice.
The MoJ declined to comment.