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Croydon tram crash: Inquest postponed due to rising Covid levels

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image captionSeven people were killed when a tram derailed near to Sandilands tram stop in November 2016

An inquest into the Croydon Tram Crash that killed seven people has been delayed due to coronavirus.

A 12-week hearing into the derailment, which also left 61 people injured, had been due to start on Monday.

The jury inquest, at Croydon Town Hall, was due to hear arguments that human error and transport system failings were to blame.

But it has been postponed due to rising virus levels in London, and a new date has yet to be announced.

The tram came off the tracks near Sandilands tram stop in November 2016.

An initial investigation found it was travelling at almost four times the line's speed limit.

On Friday morning a statement from the South London Coroner's office said that Croydon had the fourth "highest rate of infection" for coronavirus of London's 32 boroughs.

image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionMark Smith, Dane Chinnery, Phil Seary and Dorota Rynkiewicz (l-r) all died in the crash

It means safe two-metre social distancing measures cannot be enforced for the coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe, an usher, witnesses, barristers, solicitors and family members of the seven victims who died in the crash.

Mrs Ormond-Walshe said the inquest had "for the time being" been "delayed by Covid-19".

She added: "I am very concerned about the jury. I do not think it is reasonable, given the increase in the Tier level for London and the infection rate in Croydon, to oblige a juror to spend the next few weeks in a room with 10 strangers.

"However, my team and I will continue as far as possible to take proactive steps, with a view to resuming, if at all possible, as soon as possible."

The coroner said the inquest could still conclude before Christmas, if "for example", it started in four weeks time.

image copyrightBritish Transport Police
image captionPhilip Logan (left), Donald Collett (centre) and Robert Huxley (right), also died

Driver Alfred Dorris was arrested but charges of gross negligence and manslaughter were later dropped.

The official report into the crash concluded Mr Dorris, then aged 42, probably dozed off moments before the tram left the tracks.

No charges of corporate manslaughter were brought against Transport for London (TfL) or operator Tram Operations Ltd (TOL), a subsidiary of FirstGroup.

Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, and Robert Huxley, 63, all from New Addington, and Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62, both from Croydon, were all killed in the crash.

Ben Posford, who is the lead solicitor for five of the seven families said: "They are very disappointed by the adjournment, having been preparing for the start of the inquests for a long time.

"However, they accept the difficult decision that the senior coroner has had to make in light of the Covid crisis, and hope that the inquests can get underway soon."

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  • Croydon

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