Inquest into the Croydon tram crash will get underway after a ‘long and agonising wait’

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

After a “long and agonising wait” an inquest into the Croydon tram crash will get underway on Monday (May 17).

It has been more than four years since a tram derailed at Sandilands Junction on November 9, 2016.

The tragic incident resulted in the death of 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.

A further 62 people were injured, 19 seriously.

The inquest will take place at Croydon Town Hall from Monday-Thursday and is expected to last for 13 weeks.

A jury and senior coroner, Sarah Ormond-Walsh, will listen to a range of evidence including from family members, TfL, Tram Operations Limited (TOL) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

Families of the victims have been waiting for the inquest, which has been delayed further due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ben Posford is head of catastrophic injury at Osbornes Law and is lead solicitor for five of the seven families.

He said: “This has been a long and agonising wait for all the families.

“We believe they were badly let down by the tram operators, TOL, a subsidiary of First Group, and Transport for London.

“As such, their hope for the inquest is that it will give them a better understanding, and some long overdue answers, as to why their loved ones are no longer here.

“Importantly, they also want to make sure that lessons are learned, and changes made in relation to the systemic failures and poor management culture that led to the crash, so that nothing like this can happen again.”

On Monday, the jury will be appointed and there will be discussion with the legal teams involved.

The rest of the first week will cover the identification of evidence, medical causes of death, and families will give statements about those who died, known as pen portraits.

From the second week the inquest is expected to hear from the various witnesses.

At the final pre-inquest hearing in April 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 appear to give evidence at the inquest.

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.

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Croydon – South London News