AN inquest into the death of a teenage girl has concluded that she died after her car was steered into oncoming traffic.

Jayden Ryder, of Ferryhill, was driving her white Fiat 500 with her partner, Ryan Wiffen on the evening of Friday, February 2, 2018.

Mr Wiffen refused to give evidence on the first day of the hearing, but after seeking legal advice, cooperated with Assistant Coroner Oliver Longstaff on the final day of the inquest.

Crook Coroner’s Court heard how on the evening of the incident Mr Wiffen had been drinking alcohol at his boss’s home before Miss Ryder picked him up in her car.

Mr Wiffen said in a statement to police that the pair pulled over briefly and had a conversation about ordering Chinese food.

However data taken from a black box installed in Miss Ryder’s car shows the Fiat pulled over for a period of 38 minutes.

During that time, Mr Wiffen’s mother told police she received a phone call from Miss Ryder, who asked her to tell Mr Wiffen to pay back money he owed her.

Messages were also read out in court between Miss Ryder and her mother, in which she asked her to “sort Ryan’s stuff” because he was “blagging my head".

When asked if the couple were going to split up that evening, Mr Wiffen said no, and that they were “always winding each other up".

He also told police that he had not done anything, deliberate or otherwise, to result in Miss Ryder’s death.

“I have done nothing, I don’t think I’m responsible for anything,” he said.

Mr Wiffen said he had experienced a blackout and could not remember the moments leading up to the crash, but also said that he did not grab the steering wheel.

He told police he was a careful driver and had never driven Miss Ryder’s car as it wasn’t worth his job.

Mr Wiffen has since lost his licence after he was convicted for dangerous driving in January of this year.

The 20-year-old told police he had experienced two flashbacks from February 2, the first of glass smashing, air coming into the car and seeing Miss Ryder, and the second of an oncoming car veering into Miss Ryder’s Fiat.

He told police: “We were just going along and then they were coming into us.”

However that was ruled out when PC Robin Turner of Durham Police’s Collision Investigation Unit said the incident could not have taken place anywhere other than on the opposite side of the road, and that the Fiat 500 had veered onto the wrong side of the carriageway.

He said: “All I can say is that there’s been a steered input but where it’s come from I can’t say.”

The driver of the oncoming Audi A3 described the Fiat as “violently swerving” into his car.

After Mr Wiffen was formally released as a witness a member of Miss Ryder’s family lunged towards him, before being stopped by police. He later apologised to the coroner and said his emotions had got the better of him.

Mr Longstaff said all possibilities of why Miss Ryder’s car suddenly swerved remained speculative until proved otherwise and that police reports had stopped short of expressing a conclusion.

He said: “In blunt terms, the Fiat was driven into the Audi. There were two occupants, Jayden Ryder and Ryan Wiffen.

“Mr Wiffen was an unwilling witness in an obviously hostile environment. He came to court refusing to answer any questions.

“Eventually an account was placed on the record, the transcript of three interviews given to police. That account I do not find to be reliable.

“His account is not substantiated by the data from the black box, the evidence of mobile phone records or his employer.”

He added that blackouts are not unknown but that Mr Wiffen could not have it both ways by claiming he had no memory of the event but also asserting that he did not grab the steering wheel.

Mr Longstaff returned a narrative verdict, stating that Miss Ryder died after the car she was driving crossed over the central line of the road and into an oncoming Audi A3.

He thanked Durham Police for their efforts, particularly for the “painstaking task of putting the cars back together".

Mr Longstaff also praised Miss Ryder’s family and the passenger of the Audi, Peter French, who was seriously injured in the crash.

He added: “He is to be praised for his courage in coming to court and for the manner in which he has expressed his concerns.”