Expert witness sought to help explain tragedy

Date published: 30 January 2014

AN inquest into the death of an Oldham woman thrown from her bus seat is seeking independent expertise due to concern raised by her family lawyer.

Muriel Naylor (79) was travelling home to Failsworth from Oldham on November 19, 2011, when her Stagecoach bus braked sharply to avoid colliding with a dark-coloured Vauxhall Vectra.

Mrs Naylor was sitting in a seat reserved for the elderly and was sent flying across an empty pushchair space and head first into barriers. She was taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital but died later that day. An image of the car was released but the driver never come forward.

A inquest reopened yesterday but was adjourned after lawyers for the family and Stagecoach agreed to consult an independent expert. Family lawyer Sam Harmel raised concerns with Oldham coroner Simon Nelson.

Mr Harmel said: “Muriel was invited to sit in these seats expressly. The sudden braking, which the family probably accepts was reasonable, had the effect of propelling her across the void to sustain catastrophic injuries. The lack of any expert witness is troubling. This will not assist a jury to consider the issues.

“There is no evidence to say the seat was safe or what has gone into the design — especially when there is an express invitation for old and disabled people to sit there.”

Lawyer Jonathon Backhouse, representing Stagecoach, said: “We agree a Stagecoach witness is not in a position to comment on these expert issues. Buses are some of the few vehicles that don’t have passenger seat belts. That’s a decision by the UK government and Europe. Buses that travel no faster than 62mph are exempt.”

In a statement, Mrs Naylor’s family spoke of their shock at her death. Son David Naylor (50) said they were yet to come to terms with the manner of her death. It is still difficult to reflect that on what began as an everyday shopping trip could have ended in such a way.”