Payout over railway deaths – BBC East Midlands Today and “This is Nottingham” 8.2.12

Laurence Hoggart was represented by P&B’s Jane Radcliffe. 

Payout over railway deaths | This is Nottingham

Payout over railway deaths

DAMAGES have been paid to a man whose wife and grandson were killed on a level crossing. Jean Hoggart, 65, and seven-year-old Michael Dawson died at the pedestrian-only crossing, off Moor Road, near Bestwood Village, in November 2008.
An inquest

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjZ5FK3Qt7U?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

An inquest

An inquest into the two deaths heard a tram had passed over the level crossing seconds before the accident, meaning the pair would not have heard the train coming.

Despite a verdict of accidental death at Nottingham Coroner’s Court, Mrs Hoggart’s husband, Laurence, filed a writ to the High Court seeking damages from Network Rail for failing to ensure the crossing was safely lit and to put up adequate warning signs.

The case was due to be heard in two weeks but has now been settled out of court. The amount of damages has not been disclosed.

In a statement, Mr Hoggart said: “My personal loss and that to our family could so easily have been avoided if the responsible people in Railtrack and Network Rail had done their jobs properly.

“They did not, and we have to suffer the dreadful consequences for the rest of our lives.”

Network Rail last week pleaded guilty to health and safety offences over the deaths of two girls in a separate incident at a level crossing in Elsenham, Essex, in 2005.

Mr Hoggart said he felt that decision may have led to his own settlement being concluded out of court this week.

He said: “I am still angry about the manner in which the rail authorities dragged their feet in responding to their deaths. I feel I have had to fight them every step of the way.”

He added: “I think the offer they have given is appalling for the life of an innocent human being.”

The crossing, which links Bestwood Village to Hucknall Lane, has previously been described by Councillor Chris Baron as “an accident waiting to happen”.

Since the deaths, a new gate and warning sign have been installed at the crossing.

Work has also been carried out to straighten the track.

But Mr Baron, Hucknall West councillor for Ashfield District Council, said it still wasn’t enough and that he wanted to see the gate lock automatically when a train is approaching.

He said: “The unnecessary deaths of not only a grandmother but her grandson could have been avoided.

“Network Rail have done quite a large amount of alterations to that crossing, however, what they still haven’t provided is a locking gate.

“It’s ironic that in the Elsenham tragedy Network Rail were found to be negligent because they hadn’t provided a locking gate.”

A Network Rail spokesman said legal responsibility for the accident in Bestwood was accepted in 2010.

He said: “All actions recommended in the following investigation have been completed and new signs giving clearer instructions for all users have also been installed.

“We have been in dialogue with Mr Hoggart since the incident and are pleased to have reached a settlement.”

Accidents and Disease, Jane Radcliffe, Media clippings,
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