Anger as inquest jury rules that Croydon tram crash victims died accidentally

The families of Croydon tram crash victims have demanded a new inquest into their deaths after a jury concluded they died as a result of an accident and were not unlawfully killed.

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

Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, and Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, both from Croydon, were killed in the crash.

On its 10th day of deliberations at Croydon Town Hall, the 10-person inquest jury reached a unanimous conclusion that their deaths were a result of an accident.

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 include senior managers of operator Tram Operations Ltd – a subsidiary of FirstGroup – and Transport for London, plus other experts and tram drivers.

The victims’ families will now call on the Attorney General Michael Ellis QC to apply to the High Court to grant a new inquest.

They will also seek to judicially review Ms Ormond-Walshe’s decision on which witnesses to call.

Tram accident scene
Floral tributes were left near the scene of the crash (PA)

Mr Logan’s granddaughter, Danielle Wynne, told the PA news agency: “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.”

Mr Smith’s mother, Jean Smith, 64, said: “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 (Transport for London), 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.”

Ben Posford, partner and head of catastrophic injury at London law firm Osbornes Law, representing the families of five of the seven victims, said they are “understandably angry and upset”.

He went on: “Ultimately they feel that nobody has been held accountable for the tragic events almost five years ago and will keep fighting for justice for their loved ones.

“As a result, we will be pursuing the legal options open to us by calling on the Attorney General to apply to the High Court for a new inquest.

“The families will also be considering judicial review proceedings against the coroner, to get the answers they deserve.”