A MAN who died when his car was engulfed in flames in Seevic College’s car park may have killed himself over debts, an inquest heard.

Shopkeeper Vimalkumar Patel, from Kiln Road, Thundersley, drove into the car park of the college further along Kiln Road at about 4.55pm on February 6.

Coroners’ officer Laura Howarde, speaking at the hearing at Chelmsford Coroners’ Court, said: “A Renault Megane was recorded on CCTV entering the car park. Five minutes later the driver opened the window and threw out a mobile phone and wallet. There was a light flicker and a short time later, the car exploded.”

Mr Patel, 42, who lived with his wife and young son, was identified by dental records. A post mortem examination found he was killed by smoke inhalation and burns.

Returning a verdict of suicide, coroner Eleanor McGann said family members had explained he had suffered from financial difficulties, but they had been of the view that the debts were not severe at the time.

She said a thorough Essex Fire Service investigation had convinced her Mr Patel intended to take his own life.

She said: “He had carefully parked away from other vehicles, which was a very deliberate act and he was seen on CCTV to throw out a mobile phone and a wallet, which was also a deliberate act. His family said he had some financial troubles, although they were not of the view they were severe.”

More than ten police cars attended, along with two crews from Rayleigh Weir fire stationwhich rushed to put out the fire. When they got there, they found the car was completely alight.

Most of the students had gone home, but some were leaving the building as the blast happened.

Seevic principal Nick Spenceley, who witnessed it from his office, held a minute’s silence the following day at the college to pay respects to Mr Patel.