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
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Voices
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans
voices
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
theatreStar's successor at Old Vic theatre admits he's 'allergic to hype'
Life and Style
life + healthVirginia Ironside's dilemma, during Depression Awareness Week
Arts and Entertainment
The median income for professional writers is just £10,432, less than the minimum wage
booksSurvey reveals authors' earnings
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders