A 65-YEAR-OLD man who died after crashing his car into a wall and swerving into a tree head-on may have fallen asleep at the wheel, an inquest has heard.

Robert Watkins, of New House Road, near Abergavenny, was driving on the A40 Crickhowell to Abergavenny Road in the early hours of Wednesday, July 24.

The weather on that night was “atrocious”, said Head Coroner for Gwent Caroline Saunders.

Forensic collision investigator for Gwent Police Dean Burnett said investigations had determined Mr Watkins' car had veered off the road close to the Lamb and Flag pub and crashed into a stone wall.

Tyre marks showed the car had continued to travel on the grass verge for a few seconds before swerving onto the other side of the road, colliding with a fence and crashing into a tree.

The inquest heard two passing drivers had discovered the debris at around 1.40am and called an ambulance, with paramedics arriving within six minutes.

But, although they attempted to revive Mr Watkins using CPR, he was pronounced dead at 2.11am.

Mr Burnett said there was a “realistic possibility” Mr Watkins had been in “micro sleep” when the initial contact with the wall was made.

Data extracted from the Land Rover Discovery’s on-board computer showed he had been travelling at 75mph, and suggested there had been no attempt to brake or move the wheel during the incident. Although the car’s speed slowed to 61mph before the initial crash, this was not due to braking, but because the accelerator was not being pushed.

The inquest also heard Mr Watkins, who was travelling home from the Royal Welsh Show, had been awake for close to 23 hours at the time, and had visited his GP in April 2019 complaining of being “tired all the time”.

When Mr Watkins was found, his seatbelt was not latched, and his daughter told the court in a statement that he rarely wore a seatbelt.

His cause of death was recorded as compression fracture dislocation of the lower cervical spine, caused by trauma.

Ms Saunders concluded Mr Watkins had died as the result of a road traffic collision.

“Whatever the cause, he was not conscious when he left the road,” she said. “His speed was in excess of 75pmh.

“Though this did not cause the collision, a slower speed would have lowered the likelihood of him sustaining injuries.

“We can’t know what the outcome would have been with the seatbelt in place."

In a tribute issued at the time, the family of Mr Watkins - known to most as 'Spuddy' - called him "a much-loved family man who lived for farming and his children".

"His loss has left his family and friends heartbroken," they said.