Tram driver cleared over fatal crash in Croydon that left seven people dead

19 June 2023, 13:10 | Updated: 19 June 2023, 14:45

Dorris was cleared over the tram crash
Dorris was cleared over the tram crash. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Will Taylor

A tram driver has been cleared of failing to take reasonable care at work over a crash in Croydon that killed seven people.

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Alfred Dorris, 49, was found not guilty at the Old Bailey on Monday. He was charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

One of the victim's granddaughters described the not guilty verdict as "deflating".

A total of 19 people were also seriously injured in the incident, out of 69 passengers that were on board.

The tram fell to its side at a sharp bend in the track.

Read more: Croydon tram crash: TfL and tram operators admit failings over fatal crash

Dorris apologised to the victim's families
Dorris apologised to the victim's families. Picture: Alamy

Prosecutors alleged Dorris, of Beckenham in south-east London, could have had a "micro-sleep" or become disorientated before the crash on November 9 2016.

Dorris said he was disorientated but did not fall asleep. He blamed poor lighting and signage in the Sandilands tunnel, as well as darkness and bad weather.

He was thrown from his seat as the tram tipped, and he hit his head and passed out, he said.

Dorris told the victim's families during the trial: "I'm a human being and sometimes as a human being things happen to you that you are not in control of.

"I'm sorry that I became disorientated. I'm sorry I was not able to do anything to stop myself from becoming disorientated.

"And I'm deeply sorry I was not able to do anything to reorientate myself and stop the tram from turning over. I'm deeply sorry."

He was allegedly going three times the speed he should have been doing when the tram derailed at Sandilands. He did 43mph while drivers are told to slow down to 12mph ahead of the curve.

Jurors took under two hours to clear him.

The victims were 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.

Mark Smith, Dane Chinnery, Phil Seary and Dorota Rynkiewicz (l-r) all died in the crash
Mark Smith, Dane Chinnery, Phil Seary and Dorota Rynkiewicz (l-r) all died in the crash. Picture: Handout

Danielle Wynne, 32, the granddaughter of Mr Logan, said: "A not guilty verdict to me is like someone stabbing me in the chest.

"It feels so deflating.

"If I got into my car and I did what he did at the speed that he did, then I would go to prison."

She added: "My grandad and this incident will never be forgotten. It's a date that's etched into my mind.

"Our family feels truly let down by the justice system."

The case was brought to court by the regulator the Office of Rail and Road.

Transport for London and Tram Operations Limited, the operator, pleaded guilty to not taking reasonable care previously.

They are due to be sentenced in August.

In July 2021, an inquest jury concluded the victims died because of an accident and were not killed unlawfully.

Updates to follow

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