A TRAUMATISED father who felt he failed to stop a serious attack on his daughter hanged himself in Hampshire woodland, an inquest heard.

Gareth Reeve, 47, was a "happy-go-lucky" truck driver who changed completely after witnessing a burglary and assault on his daughter, Jessica, Winchester Coroner's Court was told.

He was found hanged in woods north of Bishop's Waltham on February 24 after a police helicopter search.

The inquest heard how Mr Reeve, from Havant, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the attack in September.

According to a statement from PC Sarah Hall, longtime friend Malcolm Boniface told police: "He felt it was his fault and he couldn't do anything about it, and he just froze."

Mr Reeve struggled to find use in counselling, the inquest heard, and was reported missing on February 22 by his mother, Norma. He had lived with her for 10 years after the breakdown of his relationship but was about to move into a flat with his son.

Two days later, police launched a helicopter-led thermal imaging search in woodland off the B3035 near Bishop’s Waltham after Mr Boniface reported he had seen Mr Reeves’ car parked in a layby.

The 47-year-old was found hanging in the woods and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Mr Reeves’ brother, Andrew, told the inquest he was a "happy-go-lucky" man who often kept his feelings inside.

"It completely changed him," he said of the attack. "He'd put blankets over the windows and he kept them there all the time. It was like blackout curtains."

"He was a great supporter of Manchester United,” Mr Reeve added. “You'd tell him Manchester United had won, it'd just go over his head. He didn't care about anything by the end."

Recording a verdict of suicide, senior central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short said: “This was from all accounts a serious and horrific attack.

"I feel he could not live with his guilt – and that he did understand that he wasn’t able to help his daughter – but also [with] his own fears about the long-term effects that that was going to have. I think it was entirely wrong for him to have those thoughts, and that’s why he needed help.”