THE RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT
CONCLUSION OF THE INQUEST.
ENGINE-DRIVER NIXON FOUND GUILTY OF CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE.
The inquest into the circumstances attending the denth ot a Chinese, named Ley Bo Leung, who was killed in the recent railway collision between two good trains at Oakleigh was concluded yesterday, before Mr. Candler, the district coroner, at the Oakleigh Junction Hotel Mr. J. Guinness, of the Crown Law department, appeared for the Railway depart- nient. Mr J. Westley represented Nixon, the driver of the 11.10 train from Warragul.
Mr. J. Moloney appeared for the guards of the trains , and Mr. Wallace (of the firm of Garnison and Walluce) watched the proceed- ings on the part ot the Fireman's Association.
George Alfred Hall, stationmaster at Dandenong, who was recalled, stated that he
had cautioned Driver Nixon for ruuning into the Dandenong station at an excesive rate of speed, but did not report him s he ought to have done in accordance with the regula- tions. Rule 206 provided that no train must be started before the time stated in the time table, but it had been the practice neverthe- less for the stationmaster to allow train to start before the time specified. Witness could not Buy whether the practice was sunc tioned by the department or not The practice had been in vogue for IS months Wiin-as admitted that it he hid not trans greased a cleir rule laid down by the depart tuent the accident could not lune hup pened
George Alfred Robinson stated that he was the guard of the 11 10 tram from Warragul
'Hie actual time of leaving Wnmgul was 1127, owing to the engine being enanged in shunting operations A stopp ue was mude at Berwick tor tour minutes and Dandenong waa reached at 1 r> ii ni, thou.li the train should not have arrived there according to the time tnkle until 2 o'clocl. 1 he train overshot tne points by about so yards, be cause the porter at lhe station signalled with u white luht, though he should lune sign tiled with u red light ns soon as the trmn was over the point-. The tram entered Duidenung station ut the rate of about 20 miles an hour W itness was antlinnaed by the stutionimater to leaie Dandelion): at 1fi and the stntionmaster gave the driver the staff to permit bim to start At Springvale the truiu overshot the station by nbout 10 yards, and had to put bick for tue itali 'Lhev arrived at Spring vale at 122 and left at 1 *J,> After pissing through Clnj ton s ro id station witness noticed the distance semaphore of the Oak leigh station allowing a pale red light, and shortly afterw irds he saw the home signal showing u white light W hen about SO jurds from the home semaphore the light suddenly changed to red When the truiu was coming over the hill witness saw the three tail lights ot the other 'oods train, nindi he supposed to be standing in No 2 road as it was on the pn vmus 1 harsdai As soon as the ted I i_ht was allon n at the home semaphore the accident happened, and
witness was rendered insensible
To the Coroner - Witness did not hear anything said about putting signals up after the accident. The Westinghouse brake was applied about two minutes before the acci- dent, and the driver sounded his whistle about a quarter of a minute before the crash. Steam was abut oft on passing the distance
At tins Btage the witness complained of great pain m Ins head consequent on in juries ne received in the accident, and had to
be carried from the room
Alfred Thompson, locomotive inspector of the eastern system of railway, said that there was no report in the books to the effect that the Westinghouse brake on the engine of the 11.10 train was defective. To the best of his knowledge it waa in perfect working order.
Nicholasa Darcy, inspector of permanent waye, residing at Oakleigh, said that on the morning of the 5th inst. he heard a train coming into the station, and heard it give three distinct whistles, and immediately afterwards there was a loud crash. Witness went up the line with the Stationmaster and
looked at the debris.
To a Juryman -To the best of witness's opinion, judjrmg from the state of the Usbns, the 1110 tram must have been travelling at
troni 15 to 20 miles an hour
Benjamin Phillips, stntionmaster nt Spring vale, said that the 11 10 train arrived at Sprmgiale at abott 1.20, and left nt 1.26 lhe distance between Springvale and Oak leigh was live miles If a train lelt Sp mg valent L26 and nriived at Oakleigh at 1 ¡2it must lune been travelling at nearly a mile a
Pilwm Nixon said that lie waa the drner of the 11 10 tram from Warragul on the 4th Hist He arrived at Dandenong ut about 1 o clock After leaving Dandelion*; he stopped at Springvale, und got the stat! irom tho Stationmaster. He then started for Oak leigh Roth the distance and the home Bign ila were right for the tram to come into Oakleigh As he was going past the distance semaphore he saw the tail lights ot another train standing in the station Seeing both semaphores down-as happened on the pre vious iliursday-he thou.ht that the train m Iront was standing in No 2 road, as it was on the loriuer occasion On (letting closer to the train he found out Ina mistake, and immediately applied the brake, but the wheels skidded To release the brake, and set it ag un occupie 111 second«, and before it was re applied the 1110 train came into collision with the stationär) train J he Blurting semaphore at the Oakleigh station
was also down
'I he Coiiovut, in summing up the evidence, said that there could be no doubt that the deceased Chinese, Lay lio Leung, died from injuries received in the collision It was for the jury to decide whether the collision was accidental, or was the consequence of care lessnisi, negligence, or recklessness on the part of any person or persons, or whether it was broncht nbout bv wilful intent. It the jurj were satisfied that there was gross dere action of duty on the part of any persons, it was for them to decide who those persona were Assistant etitiunmaster Traser was in charge ot the station at the time of the occurrence, mid tbereture m charge ot the «titiouury truiu, thereby releasing the officials of that train from responsi- bility Neither the driver, fireman, nor guard had received instructions from the stationtoaster to go on, und therefore they could not be implicated in the disaster It was the duty of Porter Clyne to see that the signals were changed on the arrival ol the in- coming tram, so us to prevent a subsequent train irom coming in Ile did so according to the evidence ol the Stationmaster, who waa therefore the sole person responsible for the train being at the station at that time 'lhe mostimportont point tested on the state of the signals, and it would be for the jury to decide whether the home and distance lights were against the succeeding tram, or in luvour of it
On this point ti» re was direct conllict ot testimony The persons on the station mid connected with the 1013 tram distinctly stated that as soon as the train entered the station the red lights were put up 1 his was horne out by the statement ol an independent witness named Richardson, who happened to be on the spot at the time of the accident 'i,he three witnesses connected with the in coming train stated that the home light was white, although there was a diflercuce ot opinion us to the state cf the distance signal, two Btutmg thur it was u mixed I it- li r, while the driver said that it was a white light. 1 he jurs would have to balance these contradic tory statements, and determine to which statements credence ehould be given It was clear to his (the Coroner's) minti that there was wilful perjury on one side or the other, and the jury would have to decide upon which side it rested. If semaphores were wrongly set hy persons in asttition, with criminal negligence, it would be manalnughter Negligence might be criminal, culpable, or excusable, and the jury would have to decide which, it any, degree lind been shown The three men on the incoming train would not be likely to luke lhe risk ol n collision it thev lind seen a red light on the home semaphore, but, on the other hand, no levver than seven witnesses swore that the red luht waa exhibited Although the -tntionmaster at Dundenong might have been in the wrong in allowing the tram to leave that station ut ti much earlier hour than was specified lu the time table, still he was not responsible for the accident, because the persons on the train stated that they ran into the Oaltlcigh station because they saw a white luht up, and the accident waa therefore not due to the train Binniup: before ita time 'Jh" eil
dence sliowt 1 that the train lett Spnnginle at or about 1 2"> and that the accident took place between 1 28 and 1 -0 'J he distance between Springville, and Oakleigh was live miles, and the time occupied ivis according to the < vidence, five minutes, which went to show that tho »peed was excessive, and that the «Inver waa guilty ot direct disobedience to orders, 'J here might have been laxity in the iiduuni-Uiitioti ot the Hillway depart ment, rnd Inulta ot omission m station musters who did not report derelictions ot duty on the. part ot engine driver», but these things lind no direct bearing on the pointatissue It appeared that at whatever rate of speed the Irani waa travelling, that rute was excessive, although the opinions ot witnesses varied between (>0 miles an hour and 12 miles an hour, it would be the duty of the jury to point out who waa to blame, and in what decree. It any person or persons were in their opinion guilty of cnt-inal negligence, it would be lh"ir duty *o
find that person, or those persons, gnilty of tnnnalaughter. There was no loophole of escape from the conclusion that the evidence on one side or the other was false, and wilfully false, and the jury would have to decide which act of . witnesses they would
After 10 minutes' deliberation the jury returned ft verdict to the effect that the deceased, Ley liri Leung, was killed in the accident at Oakleigh station on the nth ¡nut., which accident was due to the cijlpable negligence of Driver Edwin Nixon. There was no evidence to prove disobedience to orders or negligence on the part of any other
The Conoxr.n intimated that the verdict | did not amount tn manslaughter, and that as fur as that court was concerned Driver Nixon was discharged.