TRIBUTES have been left to a well-liked former pub landlord who died in a fire in a pub car park.

Kevin Heslop died after being engulfed in flames at the park behind The Stainton Pub at Stainton, Middlesbrough on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14. He was 42.

Witnesses said Mr Heslop died in an intense fire as he sat inside a Volkswagen Golf at about 8.15pm.

Mr Heslop, who lived about a mile-and-a-half away from The Stainton pub at Crosscliff, Hemlington, Middlesbrough, with his 82-year-old mother, had worked as a driver and a pub manager.

His mother, Else, was being comforted by friends and neighbours earlier today, Sunday, February 17. One neighbour supporting Mrs Heslop, who did not wish to be named, said: “He was a lovely guy, it’s just very, very sad. ”

Mr Heslop was working at The Cooperage pub at Bowburn, County Durham, until last August and tributes were left at the pub’s Facebook site. One said: “R.I.P Kev. He loved this place like it was his own.”

Other tributes have been left on various Facebook and other online sites. One said: “R.I.P Kev. My heart goes out to your family.”

Witnesses to the tragedy said Mr Heslop finished his drink and saved a place in the book he was reading before heading out to the car. Members of the public tried to save him and their bravery has been praised by the police.

It is understood Mr Heslop was born in Hexham, but his family moved to Middlesbrough and he attended school in the town before studying at Acklam Sixth Form and went on to graduate from Teesside University. He is thought previously to have worked at the well-known Crown and Dickens pubs in Middlesbrough.

A post-mortem examination has taken place which established that Mr Heslop died as a result of severe burns.

Enquiries are ongoing into the incident and anyone with information is asked to contact the non-emergency number 101.