A basketball player died when he crashed his car while arguing with his new wife – over which kind of TAKEAWAY food to eat, an inquest has heard.
Paul Graham, 49, was killed after his Chrysler Crossfire drifted into the opposite lane of a busy main road and smashed head-on into another car.
An inquest heard Mr Graham and model wife Denisa, who had been married less than 12 months, had been caught up in a blazing row just moments before the horror smash on April 24.
The spat escalated after the pair couldn’t agree on where to stop for dinner. Paul wanted to have a curry but Denisa did not want one.
They had been returning from Mr Graham’s basketball training session when he collided with another car on the A461 Lichfield Road in Rushall, West Mids.
Mrs Graham, from Wednesbury, West Mids., told Smethwick Coroners Court her husband became distracted and drifted into the opposite lane.
Moments before the smash she said the mechanic had accused her of being negative and became ‘quite animated’.
She said: “Paul was getting frustrated because he didn’t want the same food as me.
“He knocked my mobile phone and handbag off my lap on to the floor.
“The next thing I remember was being involved in a collision and seeing headlights.
“My world as I knew it just fell apart and I had lost the love of my life.”
Mrs Graham, who suffered foot a leg injuries in the crash, said she woke from unconsciousness to see her lifeless husband slumped against the steering wheel.
The inquest heard the couple’s sports car had hit a Peugeot 307 with such force it sent the other car flying into a garden wall.
Police collision investigator PC Mark Crozier said Mr and Mrs Graham had not been wearing seatbelts but there was no suggestion he was speeding.
A post-mortem showed no drink or drugs in Mr Graham’s system and found the cause of death was bleeding near the lungs caused by an aortic rupture.
Paul leaves a 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Graham’s mum Lola, of Wednesbury, West Mids., said her daughter-in-law Denisa, who works for a modelling agency, did not want to eat fast food because she was “on a diet.”
Lola, 74, said: “He was a keen basketball player and he was a good driver.
“Paul had driven to Bulgaria before on holiday, he wasn’t the sort of person to be driving erratically.
“He never used to eat before he would go to basketball practice, so that he wasn’t sick and so that he could have a big meal after.
“He enjoyed a curry, but Denisa was always on some sort of diet or hardly eating to keep slim.
“We were at the inquest, but what I think happened was he finished practice and wanted to go for a curry.
“They obviously got in an argument about it and were tussling in the car.
“His indicator kept clicking to the left, according to the driver behind, and then clicking off, I think it was her trying to get him to pull over, she was throwing a tantrum.
“They were scrapping in the car and because of that, Paul lost control and crashed.
“My son had a kind heart, he would do anything for anyone, if there were two bits of food in the kitchen, he would eat one and save the other for someone else, that’s the sort of person he was.”
Paul’s father, Edward, 74, added: “Paul was a popular and loving son.
“He was kind and generous, it showed how popular he was on the day of his funeral.
“Around 1,000 people turned up, they were backed up outside the church and following the cars, I had never seen anything like it, this was on a Monday morning, a day of work.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better son. He loved life and he loved driving too, he was a very fit man.
“He did a lot of physical activity and was in very good shape for his age before he was cruelly taken away from us.
“We strongly believe, that this stupid argument, over possibly food, a curry, was tipped over the edge by her, but she survived and our son didn’t.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant coroner Angus Smillie said the crash had been caused by Mr Graham’s ‘erratic’ driving which stemmed from the argument.
Speaking after the verdict, Mr Graham’s mum Lola said: “He was a quiet person – he never spoke anything bad about anybody.
“He always tried to help whenever he could help.
“At the funeral they gave a talk about how if he saw anybody who was down, he always put them first.
“Everybody just looked up to him.”
Mr Graham played for Shelfield Sharks, top team in the third division of the West Midlands Basketball League.
Friends and teammates paid tribute to Mr Graham after his death on social networks.
“To a friend and one of the most positive players I have played with.
“You will truly be missed and my prayers go out to your family.”
Lee Drummond added: “One of my idols will be sadly missed.
“Gutted i never got the chance to ride with ya!
“Shelfield Sharks basketball team will play the final in your honour!!!! Much love big man.”
Verdict: Accidental death.