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Croydon tram crash families to challenge limits on inquest evidence after jury returns disappointing verdict

Families whose loved ones were killed in the Croydon tram crash of 2016 are considering legal action over the inquest into their deaths after the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Posted on 22 July 2021

Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe had banned the inquest into the deaths of seven people from hearing evidence from Transport for London (TfL) and First Group’s Trams Operations Limited (TOL), meaning a verdict of corporate unlawful killing through gross negligence manslaughter could not be considered.

Instead, the jury had to rely on information about the fatal incident from evidence from the Rail Accident Investigation Board.

Families of victims of the tram disaster plan to challenge the coroner’s decision, which they say “suffocated justice”.

They will ask Attorney General Michael Ellis QC MP to apply to the High Court for clarification about how such inquests should be carried out in future. Also, they will apply for judicial review of the coroner’s decision to limit the inquest evidence.

The family of Donald Collett, aged 62 at the time of the tram crash, who are represented by Leigh Day, voiced their immense disappointment at the verdict returned by the jury.

Donald Collett

Donald’s daughter Tracy Angelo said:

“This incident has left a huge hole in our family that can never be repaired, our dad is truly missed every day. The verdict of accidental death is massively disappointing. The jury never heard any evidence from TOL and TfL about what happened on that day and as a result we feel there was never the opportunity for justice to be done properly: instead justice was suffocated by the decision of the coroner to limit the evidence that the jury would hear.

“We would want to see the driver held accountable but in addition, from a corporate perspective, we feel the management of the companies running the network are also to blame and would want to see them also held to account.”

The fatal tram crash happened on 9 November, 2016 when a tram operated by Tramlink derailed and overturned on a sharp bend approaching a junction.

As well as the seven deaths, 62 people were injured, 19 seriously. The service was approaching Sandilands tram stop soon after 6am. Although the speed limit approaching the junction was 12 mph, the tram had been travelling at approximately 45 mph. and driver error was found to be the cause of the catastrophic derailment.

Leigh Day solicitor, Laura Murphy, who represents Donald Collett’s family, said:

“Our clients have made clear their great disappointment at the verdict reached by the jury at the inquest into the deaths of the victims of the Sandilands tram crash.

"Donald Collett’s family believe that Transport for London and the Tram Operations Limited should have been called to give evidence at the inquest. If that had been the case, the jury could have considered a verdict of corporate unlawful killing through gross negligence manslaughter.

"Along with the other families involved in this case, our clients believe that that the closure of that option to the jury was unlawful, and as such will be looking to the Attorney General for answers and seeking judicial review.”

Laura Murphy
Amputation Brain injury Road traffic collisions Spinal injury

Laura Murphy

Laura Murphy is a partner in the personal injury department.

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Family disappointed by CPS decision on Croydon tram crash

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