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What caused the car crash that killed a young Hampshire dad will remain a mystery, a coroner has said.

Danny Apicella, 24, died when his Mini veered off the road into a tree near Colden Common on August 23 last year.

Grahame Short, coroner for central Hampshire, rejected the evidence from 21-year-old Lois Drayson, who was Mr Apicella’s girlfriend and only passenger in the car.

Miss Drayson suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash and now uses a wheelchair.

Miss Drayson claimed Mr Apicella, 24, was overtaking a white van on Portsmouth Road when the driver opened its door, causing him to swerve and lose control of his car.

Mr Short said: “I cannot accept that her recollection is accurate.

“I cannot explain why she believes that there was a white van. I do not find it is supported by any of the evidence.”

Hampshire police’s forensic collision investigators said they could find no evidence to support Miss Drayson’s claim, but also said they were satisfied she had not caused Mr Apicella to steer off the road.

They also discounted the idea he may have deliberately steered off the road himself. Miss Drayson, who wept before giving her evidence, said: “I knew he was going to overtake the van. I said ‘no’.

“As we were alongside it, I saw the internal light come on and the door opened straight out.

“Then I thought we were on the grass because all I could hear was the car over-revving. It was skidding. I cannot remember anything after that.”

The Winchester inquest heard that neither Miss Drayson nor Mr Apicella were wearing seatbelts.

It also emerged during the hearing that there was a restraining order to stop Mr Apicella contacting Miss Drayson, with the coroner describing their relationship as “volatile”.

Mr Apicella, of Fleming Place, died at the scene while Miss Drayson, of Old Salisbury Lane, Romsey, was taken to Southampton General Hospital.

The court also heard that Miss Drayson gave a statement to police shortly after the smash, in which she described the Mini as “a death trap”.

However, investigators found no mechanical failure in the car that would have caused it to crash.

They also said Mr Apicella appeared to be driving within the 50mph speed limit in good driving conditions. Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Short said: “I find that there is no apparent explanation for that movement to the right and therefore that this remains a mystery.

“It is unsatisfactory but in these circumstances it may have to remain a matter of conjecture.”