AN ALRESFORD man who was once a cycling champion died after years of alcohol and heroin addiction.

Gary Shaw, 59, moved from the UK to the United States with his family when he was 17, an inquest heard.

He was named the best racing cyclist in Northern California – a title which he held until his mid 20s, when he suffered an accident that damaged his back.

According to his brother Chris Shaw, who listened in to the inquest virtually from the USA, this was when he became addicted to painkillers. Chris told him to move back to the UK for a fresh start.

"I hadn't seen or heard a peep from him in 25 years," he said. "When he left America, he went AWOL and I thought he was dead.

"It was a surprise when he called me a few weeks before his death. He seemed okay; very articulate and I was pleasantly surprised by his general behaviour.

"But I was completely unaware of his drink and drug situation."

Gary Shaw, who lived in Chiltern Court, Alresford, was pronounced dead on March 30 at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

According to a report by Dr Corinne Brooks, he died by community-acquired pneumonia with a blocked vein, liver cirrhosis and hepatitis C contributing.

The contributing factors were likely to be caused by drug-taking, said the report.

Dr Ben Saunders, of Alresford GP Surgery, had written to the coroner's court detailing Mr Shaw's medical history.

It explained his past of elicit drug misuse, that he was alcohol dependent and had been diagnosed with psychosis.

Mr Shaw was also known to have depressive episodes, and had previously been detained in a mental hospital.

Chris said: "In his younger days Gary was very ambitious. But when I spoke to him all that ambition had drained away.

"He told me he was bored and that he had few friends."

Area coroner Jason Pegg concluded as death by drugs misuse.

"It's sad that this man who was such an athletic success died in the way he did," he said.