A CATASTROPHIC crash which killed a married couple as they headed home from a family funeral may have been caused by the husband falling asleep at the wheel near Winchester, an inquest heard today.

Barry and Shirley Janes, both 70, died when their Ford Fusion crashed on the A34 at Three Maids Hill just north of Winchester on February 24, an inquest was told.

The hearing in Winchester was told there was no obvious reason other than an issue with the driver.

Mr Janes, of Robins Close, Stubbington, near Fareham, was returning from the funeral in west Wales of his wife's brother and so may have been tired.

Crash investigator PC Stephen Wootton said the car clipped a verge on the central reservation then slewed across the carriageway before hitting a tree on the nearside and flipping over to end up back on the road. There was a "catastrophic impact", he said.

Mrs Janes was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene of multiple injuries. Mr Janes died in Southampton General Hospital of spinal and chest injuries.

Sarah Whitby, assistant Central Hampshire Coroner, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

She said: “Given the distance he had driven it would be a surprise if he was not tired. I can't say he fell asleep definitely. He may have been distracted. On balance, he started to drift off and woke when the car moved on to the rumble strips.”