Driver of crashed tram ‘too unwell’ to give evidence at inquest

This shot from the BBC, taken from a helicopter, shows the position of the derailed tram

The long-delayed inquest into the 2016 Croydon tram crash will get underway at the Town Hall next month, but without the key witness, driver Alfred Dorris.

Seven people were killed and 51 injured, some suffering life-changing injuries, when a tram from New Addington came off the tracks on a bend close to the Sandilands tram stop early on the morning of November 9, 2016. When it came off the tracks, before dawn and in heavy rain, the tram was travelling at almost four times the track’s speed limit.

The official inquest opened in November 2016 but was adjourned until the Crown Prosecution Service made its decision on whether to charge the driver, or whether corporate manslaughter charges might be brought against Transport for London or Tram Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of First Group.

The CPS and British Transport Police announced in October last year that the driver will not be charged with gross negligence manslaughter, nor would any other charges be brought relating to the tram crash.

The inquest into the disaster – the most deadly tram crash in this country for more than a century – is due to begin on October 19, and will include a jury inquest into 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, both from Croydon.

QC Andrew Ritchie: bereaved families need an apology

A pre-inquest hearing held at the Town Hall last week was told that Dorris was “too unwell” to attend the hearing.

Andrew Ritchie QC, representing five of the seven families of those who died in the crash, said that they would like at least to see Dorris apologise.

Dorris was arrested after the crash. The official report into the crash suggested that Dorris, then aged 42, may have had a “micro-sleep” in the moments before the tram left the tracks.

Ritchie told the inquest that the families had to satisfy a “human need to see the man and hear him apologise”. He suggested a meeting take place “either via video conference or a face-to-face, just to hear his apology in some way, so the families can put that need to bed”.

The inquest is expected to last 12 weeks.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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