John Yuill and Lamara Bell died after lying in a crashed car for three days (PA)
25 October 2022

First inquiry preliminary hearing into M9 crash FAI set for December

25 October 2022

The first preliminary hearing for an inquiry into the deaths of a mother and her partner who were left undiscovered for days after crashing off a motorway is to be held more than seven years after they died.

Lamara Bell, 25, and John Yuill, 38, died after the car they were in left the M9 near Stirling.

They were left lying in their Renault Clio for three days before being discovered after the crash in July 2015, despite police being alerted to the incident.

On Tuesday, the Crown Office announced a preliminary hearing in their Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) will be held on December 16 at Stirling Sheriff Court.

Preliminary hearings are used to identify those who are to participate in the probe, consider the scope of the inquiry, consider the information likely to be presented at the inquiry and to make any other orders as the court deems appropriate.

Procurator fiscal Katrina Parkes, who heads the Scottish fatalities investigation unit at the Crown Office, said: “The Lord Advocate considers that these deaths occurred in circumstances giving rise to significant public concern.

“This has been a complex, detailed and lengthy investigation.

“The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.”

When the crashed car was discovered on July 8 2015, Mr Yuill was pronounced dead and Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.

A member of the public called police to report the crashed car on July 5, but no action was taken until another member of the public noticed the car three days later, heard Ms Bell pleading for help, and called the police.

The FAI comes after the family of Miss Bell was awarded more than £1 million in damages from Police Scotland in a civil settlement last December while, last September, the force was fined £100,000 after it pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which “materially contributed” to Ms Bell’s death”.

Iain Livingstone, the chief constable of Police Scotland, apologised to the families following the court hearing in September last year.

Similar to an inquest in England and Wales, a Fatal Accident Inquiry is not a criminal inquiry and is used to establish facts rather than apportion blame.

Their purpose includes determining the cause of death, the circumstances in which the death occurred, and to establish what reasonable precautions could have been taken to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

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