Inquiry into deaths of couple left undiscovered in car for days to begin

A fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill begins on Monday and is expected to last a number of weeks.

Inquiry into deaths of couple left undiscovered in car for days to begin

The inquiry into the deaths of a couple who were left undiscovered for days after crashing off the M9 motorway in Scotland begins on Monday.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of Lamara Bell, 25, and John Yuill, 28, will take place at Falkirk Sheriff Court.

Ms Bell and Mr Yuill both died after the car they were in crashed on the motorway near Stirling in July 2015.

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

At a preliminary hearing in January, Murdo Macleod KC, representing Police Scotland, lodged a motion to postpone the commencement of the full inquiry due to former chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone’s “significant undertaking” as a “core participant” into the ongoing inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh – who died in police custody in 2015.

It is expected the inquiry will last “a number of weeks”.

M9 crash scene
Police at the scene of the crash after the couple’s car was discovered (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The force was also fined £100,000 in September of the same year at the High Court in Edinburgh after it pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which “materially contributed” to Ms Bell’s death.

The court heard Ms Bell pleaded for help after being found and would probably have survived had she been rescued sooner.

Sir Iain apologised to the families of Mr Yuill and Ms Bell following the court case.

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

A member of the public had reported the crashed vehicle to police 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.

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

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on death investigations for COPFS, said: “Following a thorough and detailed investigation and criminal prosecution this Fatal Accident Inquiry will look at the full circumstances surrounding these tragic deaths and help avoid such an incident happening again.

“The families of Lamara Bell and John Yuill and their legal representatives will continue to be updated as the Inquiry progresses.”

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