Croydon families prepare to relive traumatic tram crash in inquest next month

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

The families of the seven people killed in the Croydon tram crash and more than 60 survivors will have to relive that traumatic day in 2016 when a 12-week inquest starts next month.

The granddaughter of one of the victims says the inquest will just be the start of her fight for justice.

The final pre-inquest procedural hearing took place at Croydon Town Hall this morning (Friday, April 30).

A jury inquest into the deaths of Dane Chinnery, Donald Collett, Robert Huxley, Philip Logan, Dorota Rynkiewicz, Philip Seary and Mark Smith is now set to go ahead on May 17 part virtually and part in person.

At today’s short hearing it was reiterated that the driver of the tram, Alfred Dorris, and John Rymer, managing director of the tram operations limited when the crash took place, will not give evidence at the inquest.

General view of the scene near the tram crash in Croydon, as the investigation into the deadly crash continues.

Mr Dorris has been deemed unfit to appear in person due to being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while Mr Rymer has physical health condition meaning he is also not well enough to attend.

Coronavirus restrictions meant the inquest was postponed from October 2020 – It was originally opened on November 21, 2016, but was adjourned until a decision on whether or not to charge the driver was made.

Social distancing measures still in place will mean that not all interested parties will be able to attend the inquest in person.

Danielle Whetter is the granddaughter of Philip Logan, one of the victims, and thinks the inquest should have been held at a higher profile court in central London and is also unhappy that Mr Dorris and Mr Rymer will not be appearing,

Speaking after today’s hearing, the 30-year-old said: “I still have reservations about certain things but there are things we can’t change now.

“I don’t feel that Croydon is the right place to hold this inquest, I think we deserve so much more.”

It is now more than four years since the seven victims died on the morning of November 9, 2016, when a tram derailed at Sandilands Junction.

Ms Whetter said that the heartbreaking experience of the inquest will be made more difficult by the fact her grandmother may be unable to attend in person.

66-year-old Marilyn and Philip were a couple for 35 years and got married in Cyprus in 2001.

“My nan is not very well at the moment so she might not be attending the inquest in person,” said Ms Whetter, “I know that I have my family’s blessing to take the reins.

“I owe it to my nan and grandad and all the victims and survivors. We need this justice this is all about closing another chapter.”

After waiting for more than four years Ms Whetter said she is relieved the inquest is finally going ahead.

“It is going to be absolutely heartbreaking, to listen to what happened to not just someone I loved but all the other victims and survivors.

“I am looking forward to finally getting the answers we haven’t had before.

“I am very much aware [the inquest] is coming, I am just trying to hold it together for my nan.”


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Croydon – South London News