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PC Leah Jeffries, who was at the scene, told the inquest Mr Stephens was “cold and stiff” and she could see his “chest was crushed” when the car was raised.

It was then she noticed a car jack and torch alongside his body.

Needing money for court case

Mr Stephens’ friend Aron Godfrey, with whom he had been living in Ynysybwl weeks before he died, told the inquest Mr Stephens had been “down and stressed” because he needed money for a court case to try and get more access to his children.

While Mr Godfrey told his friend “not to do anything stupid”, Mr Stephens planned to steal a catalytic converter from a BMW in Cymmer because he knew he could sell it, he told the coroner.

At about 01:00, Mr Godfrey said he heard a car drive off, assuming it was his close friend leaving.

After waking at 05:00 to see Mr Stephens had not returned, he said he drove to Cymmer and saw people standing around the car and emergency services arriving.

“I knew it was Daniel,” he said.

‘Accidental death’

Following a post-mortem examination, the cause of death was determined as “crush asphyxia”.

Low levels of the drug Tramadol and alcohol were also found in Daniel Stephens’ blood, with assistant coroner Rachel Knight reaching a conclusion of accidental death.

She expressed her condolences to Mr Stephens’ family and friends, adding: “It is evident he is greatly missed by many people.”

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