'It just went horribly wrong': Croydon tram diaster driver denies he fell asleep

Croydon Tram Crash
Alfred Dorris is on trial at the Old Bailey for failing to take “reasonable care” of the health and safety of himself and his 69 passengers on Tram 2551 on November 9 2016. Credit: PA

The driver in the Croydon tram disaster has told the Old Bailey he did not fall asleep before or at the time of the crash that killed seven passengers and injured 19, telling the court "it just went horribly wrong for me".

Alfred Dorris was allegedly going three times the speed he was supposed to be doing before his tram derailed on a sharp curve at Sandilands in south London.

Mr Dorris is on trial for failing to take “reasonable care” of the health and safety of himself and his 69 passengers on Tram 2551 on November 9 2016.

Under cross-examination on Friday, the 49-year-old repeatedly insisted that he did not fall asleep at the wheel, telling the court he had become “confused” and “disorientated” in the moments immediately before the crash.

He said he had "no idea" how long he had felt disoriented but when the feeling had passed, he had believed he was travelling in the other direction on the track.

Prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman KC asked him whether he had failed to take reasonable care of his passengers.

Mr Dorris said: “I turned up for work that morning as a professional driver as I always do.

“It just went horribly wrong for me. It’s not for me to say if I did or didn’t.”

When asked if fatigue might have contributed to the confusion he described, Dorris said: “I wouldn’t say so, no.”

Scene of the Croydon tram crash, in which seven people died

He admitted becoming confused but denied a lack of concentration and insisted: “I didn’t fall asleep.”

Pressed again by the prosecutor if he might have been disorientated from having been asleep, Mr Dorris said: “No, I wasn’t asleep. I was disorientated.”

Asked how long he felt that way, he said: “I have no idea.”

“I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know the duration, whether it was a second, several seconds or less. It felt like it just came and it went.”

Mr Dorris described how at the time he felt the disorientation had passed “I thought I was OK”, and that he then believed he was heading for Lloyd Park, and not the curve at Sandilands, and so did not feel he needed to immediately apply the brakes.

He said there were no warning signs for the disorientation, adding “it just crept up” on him.

Mr Dorris, from Beckenham, south-east London, denies a single charge of failing to take reasonable care at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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