A MAN who suffered 90 per cent burns after being engulfed by a fireball in his car died as the result of an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Kevin Heslop bought a fuel can and some petrol from a service station on Valentine’s Day last year before setting himself on fire in the car park of his local pub.

Teesside Coroner’s Court heard how the 42-year-old may have harboured "dark thoughts" but he had no history of self harm or mental illness.

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Mr Heslop, of Crosscliff, Hemlington, Middlesbrough, had been drinking in The Stainton pub in the village of Stainton, throughout the day before heading outside to sit in his Volkswagen Golf in the car park.

Within minutes staff and customers heard a large bang and ran outside to see Mr Heslop staggering around the car park engulfed in flames.

Despite people rushing to help him using fire extinguishers and a fire blanket to douse the flames he suffered 90 per cent burns to his body, the court heard.

Mr Heslop, who lived with his mother Elsie, who is in her 80s, was a working as a delivery driver at the time of his death.

In a prepared statement, parts of which were read out by the Assistant Teesside Coroner Malcolm Donnelly, Mrs Heslop described her son as a private person who very much kept himself to himself.

She said he would often spend hours alone in his bedroom on his computer and was acting normally in the time leading up to his death.

Mr Donnelly also read out sections of evidence from a number of people who witnessed the tragic incident, which happened at around 8pm on February 14 last year.

Bar staff of The Stainton pub described how they used fire extinguishers and a fire blanket in a desperate attempt to the flames.

The court heard how his mother had to make the heartbreaking decision to switch off her son’s life support machine as the severity of the injuries he had suffered was untreatable.

Pathologist Mark Egan’s report showed that Mr Heslop had suffered 90 per cent burns as well as internal damage caused by smoke inhalation.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Donnelly said: “I don’t think he intended what happened, especially when he was asking for help. I think this was an accident.”