THE families of seven people who were killed when a tram overturned at speed on a tight curve near Croydon on 9 November 2016 say they are ‘deeply disappointed’ with the result of an inquest into the deaths.
Another 51 passengers were injured, eight of them seriously.
A jury found that the deaths had been caused accidentally, but the families are protesting that south London senior coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe refused to call a number of potential witnesses, although the victims’ families had wanted them to be questioned about alleged safety failings. The ‘silent witnesses’ included people from Tram Operations Ltd and Transport for London, as well as other possible witnesses, such as drivers from the Croydon tram depot at Therapia Lane.
After nine days of consideration, the jury reached verdicts of accidental death on 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.
The jury foreman 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.’
After the verdict, the disappointed families told reporters outside the court that ‘justice had been suffocated’.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch had said the tram was travelling at a ‘significantly higher speed than is permitted’ on the 20km/h curve, and Transport for London announced in June 2017 that its trams were to be equipped with a safety system which would monitor their speed and intervene if necessary.
The hearing had been postponed from last year because of the pandemic.