A “GENTLE giant” who was discovered dead after his car flipped near the A1(M) may have died from a heart defect before his vehicle crashed, an inquest heard.

John Hare – known to friends and family as “Big John” – was discovered in the car near junction 10 on the A1(M) southbound in March this year.

An inquest into the 42-year-old’s death today (Wednesday) heard he had been reported missing two days before he was found.

Mr Hare, who lived in Stevenage Road, Hitchin, may have been dead in his car for more than a day due to the hidden location.

It was only after a jogger spotted him that police were alerted.

Pc Ian Marsh, from the Herts and Beds collision investigation unit, said it appeared Mr Hare may have had no control of the car, possibly because he had lost consciousness.

He said: “The road [where Mr Hare was travelling] is on a bend, but Mr Hare’s car continued in a straight line.

“No steering happened, the car went off the road, rolled down the embankment, went into the trees and flipped onto its roof.

“There was no evidence of any braking, or steering.”

A post-mortem revealed Mr Hare had no severe internal injuries and it was unlikely he had died from injuries sustained in the crash.

But it did find he had an unusually large heart, indicating heart complications.

The inquest heard this may have led to heart failure.

A large amount of alcohol and tramadol – used to relieve pain – was also found in Mr Hare’s body.

Hertfordshire coroner Edward Thomas recorded a verdict of natural causes, and said that the cause of death was cardiomyopathy – heart muscle disease – caused by obesity and type II diabetes.

“The amount [of alcohol and tramadol] he had could have caused him to lose control and come off the road,” he said.

“However, the evidence before me suggests as Mr Hare came off the road, he actually had no control of the car whatsoever.”

He added: “A report from his GP confirms he was a gentle man, a gentle giant.”

Mr Hare, who was born in Stotfold, was well known locally, and ran Hitchin Town Football Club’s Canary Club up until last summer.

He was also a top cricketer for Ickleford Cricket Club when younger.

Following his death, a minute’s silence we held at Top Field in his memory.