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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 17:01 GMT
Rail crash was caused by suicide
Brian Drysdale

A train crash that claimed the lives of seven people was caused by a car driver trying to kill himself, an inquest has found.

The suicide verdict came at an inquest into the death of Brian Drysdale, 48, and the other crash victims.

A jury decided the train driver and five passengers were unlawfully killed in the crash near Ufton Nervet, Berks, in 2004.

The collision happened when Mr Drysdale stopped his car on a level-crossing.

Train driver Stanley Martin, 54, from Torquay, Devon; Barry Strevens, 55, from Wells, Somerset; Emily Webster, 14, from Morehampstead, Devon; Anjanette Rossi, 38, from Speen, Berkshire and her daughter Louella Main, nine, died in the crash.

'Catastrophic derailment'

Leslie Matthews, 72, from Warminster, Wiltshire died in hospital the following day.

Another 120 people were injured, 18 of them seriously.

Mr Drysdale, a chef, was killed after manoeuvring his Mazda 323 onto the tracks as the London Paddington to Plymouth service approached at 100mph.

The jury in the month-long inquest at Slough had heard how the 1735 GMT First Great Western carrying 281 people was seven miles west of Reading when it collided with the car, causing a "catastrophic derailment".

The wreckage of the Ufton Nervet rail crash
Five passengers died when the train derailed at Ufton Nervet

One carriage rolled over, the buffet car was bent double and the family coach in which most of the victims were sitting slid along on its side.

Mr Drysdale had been to work at the Wokefield Park Hotel near Reading on the day of the crash, 6 November, but left early, saying he was ill.

Less than 45 minutes later, he was seen to move his car between the gates at the level crossing a few miles away.

During the inquest it was revealed Mr Drysdale was awaiting the results of a HIV test when the crash happened.

The results later revealed he did not have the virus.

Lack of urgency

An off-duty policeman who witnessed Mr Drysdale's Mazda on the tracks told the jury that, in his opinion, it was a "deliberate attempt" to place the vehicle in the path of the train.

Pc Mark Brazier said the vehicle was moving forwards and backwards between the two gates, ignoring him flashing his lights and beeping his horn, and at no time did the driver display any sense of urgency.

The inquest heard that Mr Drysdale had his seatbelt fastened and the ignition and lights off. He also had petrol in the tank, suggesting he had not broken down or run out of fuel.

The British Transport Police officer leading the investigation into the crash said that if Mr Drysdale had survived, he would have pushed for his prosecution on manslaughter or potentially murder charges.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Details of court verdict into the Ufton Nervet train crash



SEE ALSO
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Crash driver 'faced prosecution'
18 Oct 07 |  Berkshire
Rail crash was 'suicide attempt'
17 Oct 07 |  Berkshire
Crash victim waiting for HIV test
11 Oct 07 |  Berkshire

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