Croydon tram crash: Passengers accidentally killed, jury finds

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media captionCroydon tram crash: Family of victim reacts to verdict

A tram crash which killed seven people in Croydon was an accident, an inquest jury has found.

More than 50 people were injured when the tram tipped over and spun off the tracks near Sandilands tram stop in south London, early on 9 November 2016.

The tram was travelling more than three times faster than a speed limit.

Speaking after the verdict, the mother of one of the victims said the families were "bitterly disappointed" and that justice had not been done.

The inquest heard that the tram went into a very tight corner, just before the tram stop, at 73km/h (45mph). The speed limit was 20km/h (12mph).

The crash resulted in the deaths of 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, from Croydon.

image captionSeven people were killed when the tram derailed at about 06:00 GMT near Sandilands tram stop

Family members sat in the public gallery at Croydon Town Hall to hear the verdict, which came after more than nine days of deliberations.

The foreman of the jury said: "The tram driver became disorientated, which caused loss of awareness in his surroundings, probably due to a lack of sleep, as a result of which the driver failed to brake in time and drove his tram towards a tight curve at excessive speed.

"The tram left the rails and overturned on to its right side, as a result of which the deceased [were] ejected from the tram and killed."

image sourceGetty Images
image captionIn addition to the six men and one woman who died, 51 passengers were taken to hospital, eight with life-changing injuries

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 included senior managers of operator Tram Operations Ltd (TOL) - a subsidiary of FirstGroup - and Transport for London (TfL), plus other experts.

The families said they felt "justice had been suffocated".

Analysis: BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards

Many think that the Croydon tram crash is the forgotten tragedy - it happened on the day Donald Trump was elected president of the US.

Today, the families of those who died were visibly upset and angry at the jury's verdict.

Outside court in tears they addressed the media. Many do not understand why witnesses from TfL and the tram operators or drivers on that line were not called as witnesses. One told me the whole process was a shambles.

While Mr Trump has moved into and out of office, the families are still waiting for answers and justice.

Jean Smith, 64, mother of Mark Smith, said she was disappointed the inquest did not hear from TfL or the driver of the tram that crashed.

"I am bitterly disappointed as justice has not been done today. It has been a total farce as we have only heard half of the evidence and no-one who could potentially have been responsible for the crash has been called as a witness.

"It's morally wrong that we haven't been able to hear from anybody from TfL, TOL or the driver during the proceedings, whatever legal precedent says.

"It feels like they have been able to hide from giving evidence and it simply isn't fair or just. Justice has been suffocated because of the coroner's ruling."

image sourceRAIB
image captionThe tram toppled over and spun off the tracks in darkness and heavy rain near the Sandilands stop after hitting a curve at 73km/h (45mph)

TfL said it was the coroner's decision for it not to give evidence to the inquest jury and that its trams general manager attended throughout.

Commissioner Andy Byford said: "We will never forget the seven people who lost their lives in the Sandilands tragedy.

"We know these inquests have been deeply distressing for their families and friends and all those involved and I want to reiterate my continued support to everyone affected."

He added that TfL had made changes "to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again".

The families of the victims intend to call on the Attorney General Michael Ellis to apply to the High Court to grant a new inquest.

Danielle Wynne, the granddaughter of Philip Logan, said: "I'm so upset and angry. It's not an accident. Someone is to blame.

"We want lessons to be learned so that no other family has to go through this."

image sourceFamily Handout
image captionMark Smith, Dane Chinnery, Phil Seary and Dorota Rynkiewicz (l-r) all died in the crash
  • Dane Chinnery, 19
  • Donald Collett, 62
  • Robert Huxley, 63
  • Philip Logan, 52,
  • Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35
  • Philip Seary, 57
  • Mark Smith, 35

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