A RESTAURANT owner who served what was billed as the world's hottest curry has died from a heart attack.

Abdul Latif, 52, offered his famous hot curry - dubbed Curry Hell - free to any diner who could finish it at his Newcastle restaurant.

Mr Latif became a lord of the manor after buying the title of the Lord of Harpole for £5,000.

He died at his home in Gosforth, Newcastle, in the early hours of this morning.

A colleague at his restaurant Curry Capital, who did not want to be named, said: ''He was a very nice man. All the people loved him, he will be very much missed.'' Mr Latif's restaurant, which used to be called Rupali, enjoyed a high profile in recent years.

It featured in the North-East based cult comic Viz and is in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's longest-distance curry delivery - from Newcastle to Sydney.

Bangladeshi-born Mr Latif offered free curries for life to England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson and former Newcastle United manager Graeme Souness.

In 2003, he offered free meals for five years to all British servicemen and women who served in Iraq.