A Rotherham man on trial for murdering a guest house landlady and three rapes has been found dead.
John Heald of Foljambe Road, Rotherham, was discovered in his cell at Hull Prison this morning.
The 53-year-old was on trial for stabbing to death Bridlington guest house owner Bei Carter, on July 18 and raping a woman in Sheffield.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told the jury that Heald was found dead at Hull Prison.
The jury in the nine-day trial retired to consider its verdict yesterday afternoon.
Judge Richardson discharged the eight men and four women earlier today.
He told them: “Ladies and gentlemen, I am now in a position to put you fully in the picture.
“The defendant committed suicide last night. I was advised this morning and I have heard some evidence about it in your absence to confirm that he is deceased.
“You are thus discharged of course from any further deliberation in this case and an appropriate order will be made.
“I can see from your faces that comes as quite a shock. It came as a shock to me this morning.”
Earlier, a detective from Humberside Police confirmed Heald’s death.
Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Baldwin told the court: “At 10.40 hours this morning I attended I wing at Hull Prison where I saw a male I know to be John Heald.
“I can confirm that he is deceased having hung (sic) himself during the night.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “John Heald was found unresponsive in his cell at Hull prison at about 5.50am today. Paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
“Every self-inflicted death is a tragedy and we make strenuous efforts to learn from each one. As with all deaths, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”