A man accused of murdering his girlfriend won't face justice for the crime after he choked to death on a plastic-wrapped chicken sandwich in jail.

Lance Michael Pearce was placed in custody at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre in Sydney's west last week after being charged on Tuesday night.

The 34-year-old was accused of strangling his partner Blair Dalton - the mother of his young son - to death in her Ettalong Beach home.

He was initially charged with suffocating Ms Dalton but after she died in hospital last Thursday, police said they would upgrade Pearce's charges to murder.


That won't go ahead after Pearce, barely 72 hours into his time in custody, was found dead inside his Silverwater jail cell, news.com.au reported.

It is understood Pearce, from St Clair, was placed on suicide watch when he was admitted into jail.

After he was served breakfast on Friday morning, prison officers went to check on Pearce in his cell about 11am.

He was found unresponsive on his bed.

Initial reports made to police were that Pearce choked on food items, plastic wrapping and possibly sugar sachets.

Multiple sources told The Sunday Telegraph that the inmate had choked on a chicken sandwich.

Pearce (pictured) was found unresponsive Friday morning in jail by prison staff, hardly spending three days in custody.
Pearce (pictured) was found unresponsive Friday morning in jail by prison staff, hardly spending three days in custody.

CCTV footage from inside the jail will help corrective services determine exactly what went wrong while it will come down to the coroner to definitively determine what Pearce choked on.

The death has baffled both police and prison sources, who say they have never heard anything like it.


Inmates are stripped of all their belongings when they are admitted into custody and issued with regulation clothing - often a green tracksuit - and supplies, like toiletries.

Items like shoelaces are banned to limit the risk of self-harm.

A Correctives Services spokeswoman said Pearce's death was not being treated as suspicious.

"The Corrective Services Investigation Unit, which is part of the NSW Police Force, is investigating and will prepare a report on the death," the spokeswoman said.

"All deaths in custody are referred to the NSW Coroner."

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)