The victims of the Croydon tram crash died as a result of an accident, and were not unlawfully killed, the jury at the inquest into their deaths has concluded.
Seven passengers died and a further 51 were injured when a tram derailed in south London on November 9 2016.
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, were killed in the crash.
On its 10th day of deliberations at Croydon Town Hall, south London, the 10-person jury reached a unanimous conclusion that their deaths were a result of an accident.
The families of those killed in the crash have branded the inquest a "farce", claiming Transport for London (TfL) and the tram operators should have been called to give evidence.
Alfred Dorris, 47, was believed to have "nodded off" for up to 49 seconds in the Sandilands tunnel in Croydon, South London, before his tram hit a sharp bend at nearly four times the speed limit.
Seven passengers thrown out of the carriage perished and a further 19 suffered serious injuries, in the worst accident on a British tramway in more than 90 years. Forty-three others – including the driver – escaped with minor injuries.
The foreman of the jury at the inquest said: "The tram driver became disorientated, which caused loss of awareness in his surroundings, probably due to a lack of sleep.
"As a result of which, the driver failed to brake in time and drove his tram towards a tight curve at excessive speed.
"The tram left the rails and overturned onto its right side, as a result of which the deceased was ejected from the tram and killed."
Croydon tram crash, where seven people died
The coroner hearing the case at Croydon Town Hall and ruled that there was no need to call bosses from Transport for London, which owns the infrastructure on the network, and Tram Operations Ltd, which runs the service, to give evidence.
Ms Sarah Ormond-Walshe, South London’s senior coroner, ruled at a special hearing that there was no need to call the two organisation’s bosses because the inquest only needed to rely on the Rail Accident Investigation Branch investigation report.
The families will now call upon the Attorney General, Mr Michael Ellis QC MP, to apply to the High Court to grant a new inquest.
They will also seek a judicial review of the Senior Coroner for South London, Ms Sarah Ormond-Walshe’s interpretation of the law, which meant that the jury did not hear any oral evidence from anyone responsible for the crash.
Jean Smith, 64, mother of Mark Smith who died in the accident, said: "I am bitterly disappointed as justice has not been done today. It has been a total farce as we have only heard half of the evidence and no one who could potentially have been responsible for the crash has been called as a witness.
"It’s morally wrong that we haven’t been able to hear from anybody from TfL, TOL or the driver during the proceedings, whatever legal precedent says. It feels like they have been able to hide from giving evidence and it simply isn’t fair or just. Justice has been suffocated because of the coroner’s ruling.
"All we want as families is justice for our loved ones, yet four and half years on, the inquest has created more anguish and pain because we have been left with so many unanswered questions."
Ms Smith added: "We have been asked to accept the findings of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) without question, but this is completely unjust. Our legal team will be writing to the Attorney General to ask him to seek an order for a new inquest and separately, to seek permission for judicial review. This fight is not over."
Ben Posford, partner and Head of Catastrophic Injury at London law firm Osbornes Law, which represented five of the seven families, said relatives were angry that after an agonising wait they still have not secured justice for those they lost.
He said: "The families of those who died are understandably angry and upset at today’s conclusion and that they have been unable to hear from those responsible for the systemic failings that led to their loved one’s deaths.
"They have had an agonising wait for justice but have been let down by the process that has allowed the managers of TfL and TOL to dodge giving evidence and avoid giving the families the answers they so desperately need. Instead of gaining a greater understanding of how and why their loved ones died, they have been badly let down.
"Ultimately they feel that nobody has been held accountable for the tragic events almost five years ago and will keep fighting for justice for their loved ones. As a result, we will be pursuing the legal options open to us by calling on the Attorney General to apply to the High Court for a new inquest. The families will also be considering judicial review proceedings against the coroner, to get the answers they deserve."