Man accused of murdering Raymond Terrace grandmother Janice Garrett dies in hospital

TRAGEDY: Raymond Terrace grandmother Janice "Jan" Garrett.

TRAGEDY: Raymond Terrace grandmother Janice "Jan" Garrett.

The man accused of murdering Raymond Terrace grandmother Janice "Jan" Garrett in a house fire last year has died in a Canberra hospital, with his death now the subject of an investigation by police and corrective services.

Ronald John Reeves, 70, was found unconscious in his cell at Goulburn Correctional Centre on April 22 and was taken to Goulburn Hospital, then to Canberra Hospital but never recovered.

He died at 6pm on May 17. His death is not believed to be suspicious.

"All deaths in custody are subject to a coronial inquest, including deaths resulting from natural causes," a Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said.

Mrs Garrett's children offered a brief statement following the news of Reeves' death.

"Janice was well loved by all that knew her and missed terribly by her children and grandchildren. She was such a kind-hearted soul," it stated. "Her three children would like to thank everyone that tried to help Janice on that tragic night including all emergency services and neighbours."

Reeves was due to appear in Newcastle Local Court last week, charged with the domestic violence-related murder of 76-year-old Mrs Garrett, whose body was discovered among the ruins of a house gutted by fire in Rosemount Drive on July 7, 2018.

But a DPP solicitor handed up a death certificate to Magistrate Robert Stone, who ordered there be no further proceedings. Reeves was accused of murdering Mrs Garrett by burning down the house the pair were sharing between 12.15am and 12.30am on July 7, 2018.

Emergency services were called to Rosemount Drive after neighbours reported hearing an explosion and seeing flames coming from Mrs Garrett's home. The 76-year-old's body was found inside.

Meanwhile, Reeves was driving north on the Pacific Highway, where, at Boolambayte at about 1.20am, his car crossed into the southbound lanes and collided with a semi-trailer.

He was taken to John Hunter Hospital under police guard while detectives investigated the links between the house fire and crash. He was charged with murder on July 9 and had been behind bars ever since.

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