‘Unlawful killing’ among possible tram crash inquest verdicts

The coroner at the inquest into the deaths of seven people in the Croydon tram crash told the jury today that they can return a verdict of either accidental death or unlawful killing.

Sandilands tram stop shortly after the crash in 2016: the inquest into the deaths is finally drawing to a close

The jury retired to consider its verdict at lunchtime today, less than two months after being sworn in at Croydon Town Hall for the long-delayed public hearing into the events at Sandilands on November 9, 2016.

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

Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe sent the jury of eight men and three women to consider its verdict at 1.32pm.

The jury had heard during the seven-week inquest that the tram toppled over and spun off the tracks near Sandilands after hitting a curve at 45mph, despite a 12mph speed limit.

All of those killed were thrown out of the tram, either fully or partially, through the windows or doors when the glass shattered.

The inquest was told that the tram driver, Alfred Dorris, may have slipped into a period of “microsleep” on the stretch of track ahead of the curve.

RAIB’s Simon French: potentially crucial evidence

Simon French, the chief inspector of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, told the inquest that extra signage could have mitigated the risk, and there were “culture issues” at operator Tram Operations Ltd – a subsidiary of transport giant First Group – that meant drivers were unwilling to admit to speeding or other errors.

There had been a speeding incident on the same stretch of track just 10 days before the crash, when a driver came out of the tunnel and onto the tight bend approaching Sandilands at 27mph and nearly overturned. According to RAIB’s French’s potentially crucial evidence, that incident was insufficiently investigated.

Read more: No one to blame. Or no one cares? Tram crash case dropped
Read more: TfL safety audit kept secret from crash investigators
Read more: Driver of crashed tram ‘too unwell’ to give evidence at inquest
Read more: TfL considered cancelling tram contract after 2016 crash

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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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