Families of Victims Not Happy With Jury Conclusion
Croydon tram crash victims families have demanded a new inquest into the deaths after a jury concluded they died as a result of an accident and were not unlawfully killed.
On the 9th of November 2016 Seven passengers died and a further 51 were injured when the tram derailed in south London
Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, and Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, both from Croydon, were killed in the crash.
After 10 days of deliberating the 10-person inquest jury reached a unanimous conclusion that their deaths were a result of an accident.
Members of the victims’ families walked out of the room at Croydon Town Hall in tears after the decision was announced.
It can now be reported that south London senior coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe refused to call a number of people who the victims’ families wanted to give evidence about alleged safety failings.
Those potential witnesses include senior managers of operator Tram Operations Ltd (TOL) – a subsidiary of FirstGroup – and Transport for London, plus other experts and tram drivers.
The victims’ families will now call on the Attorney General Michael Ellis QC to apply to the High Court to grant a new inquest. They will also seek to judicially review Ms Ormond-Walshe’s decision on which witnesses to call.
Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) chief inspector Simon French told the inquest that the driver, Alfred Dorris, may have slipped into a period of “microsleep” on the stretch of track ahead of the curve. He said extra signage could have mitigated the risk and there were apparent “culture issues” at TOL that meant drivers were unwilling to admit to speeding or other errors.
There was a previous incident just 10 days before the crash when a driver hit the same bend at 45kmh (27mph) and very nearly overturned, but the incident was insufficiently investigated, Mr French added.
Mr Dorris was excused from attending the inquest due to poor health.
The inquest was read evidence that an officer from the Metropolitan Police who was at the scene of the crash heard a man who he believed to be the driver say: “What have I done? I’ve killed them.”
During police interviews, Mr Dorris said he was “confused”, but when asked if he had fallen asleep he replied: “No, no, no.”
The families of those killed say he has never apologised for the crash.
He was arrested at the scene of the crash, but in October 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service announced he would not be charged with manslaughter due to a lack of evidence. The CPS also said the corporate manslaughter charges would not be brought against TfL or TOL.