Parents claim cover-up after fatal Network Rail safety lapse

 

The parents of two teenage girls killed at a level crossing six years ago have said that the individuals responsible for safety failures must be brought to justice, after Network Rail pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws yesterday.

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in December 2005 after stepping onto a footpath crossing at Elsenham station in Essex. Lawyers for Network Rail admitted that the company had failed to carry out a sufficient risk assessment and to properly control protective measures at the site, at Basildon Magistrates' Court yesterday.

The girls' fathers also claimed that Network Rail had been responsible for a "cover-up" that stopped the truth about their liability coming to light after the incident.

The case will be referred to Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing next month. District Judge John Woollard ruled that the maximum fine of £30,000 that could be ordered for the three offences was insufficient.

The conviction comes after the Office for Rail Regulation reopened its prosecution of Network Rail following pressure from the girls' parents and the Transport Salaried Staff Association, amid claims that two safety documents were not disclosed to the Essex Coroner during the 2007 inquest.

Network Rail pleaded guilty to two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Olivia's father, Chris Bazlinton, 63, said that any financial penalty for Network Rail would be merely "symbolic" and called for a truth and reconciliation meeting to find out what happened at Network Rail to delay their admission of guilt.

"People talk about justice," he said outside the court. "But there's no justice really. You can't bring Charlotte and Olivia back. But people must be brought to book. We need to make sure those who failed are named – otherwise there will be others who will think that they can fail and get away with it."

Network Rail's chief executive, David Higgins, apologised to the families and said that the company had reassessed all of the 6,500 level crossings in the UK and had closed 500 in recent years.

Charlotte's father, Reg Thompson, 54, said: "The horror of that day is always with us and the huge hole in our lives left by Charlie will never be filled. In the aftermath of the accident, Network Rail claimed the girls had acted recklessly and that somehow their youthful exuberance led directly to their deaths, as if exuberance itself is a crime. I never believed that they were the architects of their own terrible end."

The guilty pleas came days after 15-year-old Katie Littlewood was killed at another footpath crossing on the same stretch of track.

 

 

charlotte thompson and olivia bazlinton

The two girls were killed by a train in 2005

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas