07 July 2021

Tram crash inquest jury can return verdict of unlawful killing

07 July 2021

Jurors at the Croydon tram crash inquest have been told they can return a verdict of unlawful killing or accident.

Seven people died and a further 51 were injured when a tram derailed in south London on November 9 2016.

South London senior coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe told the jury of eight men and three women at Croydon Town Hall that it can deliver a verdict of unlawful killing or accident.

She sent it out to consider its verdict at 1.32pm on Wednesday.

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.

Earlier in the seven-week inquest, the jury heard that the tram toppled over and spun off the tracks near the Sandilands stop after hitting a curve at 73kph (45mph), despite a 20kph (12mph) speed restriction being in place.

All of the fatalities had been either fully or partially thrown out of the tram through the windows or doors when the glass shattered.

Simon French, chief inspector of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, told the inquest that tram 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 operator Tram Operations Ltd 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.

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