Police Scotland has been fined £100,000 after admitting failings over the death of a young mother who lay undiscovered in a car for days with her partner following a crash on the M9.
John Yuill, 28, and Lamara Bell, 25, died after their car went off the M9 near Stirling on July 5, 2015.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- The force pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which “materially contributed” to the deaths of Mr Yuill and Ms Bell.
- Despite a call being made to police, it took three days for the force to respond and when officers finally arrived at the scene, Mr Yuill was found to be dead while Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.
- The High Court in Edinburgh heard on Tuesday that Ms Bell would probably have survived had she had been found sooner.
- Lord Beckett said it was “unprecedented” for the police service of Scotland to have been accused and convicted in the High Court.
- He said that in setting the fine he had to consider that as Police Scotland is a public body any fine would be paid from the public purse.
What’s been said
“This case arose from terrible events in which two relatively young people died, one of them after days of severe physical suffering when she must have been in an almost unimaginable state of anxiety.
“As days and hours went by she must have been in a state of disbelief that no help arose.”
Lord Beckett delivering the sentence
“The absence of answers and recognition has been the biggest strain because it is the not knowing that makes everything worse.
“It has taken a long time for this conviction to be secured but it is a huge relief that Police Scotland has finally admitted being at fault for Lamara’s death.”
Ms Bell’s mother
The force received a phone call from a member of the public on July 5 reporting that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment at the side of the eastbound junction nine slip road from the M80 on to the M9.
The phone call was not recorded on any Police Scotland IT system and no action was taken.
The force admitted Ms Bell and Mr Yuill remained “unaided and exposed to the elements” in the car between July 5 and 8, 2015, and that the failings “materially contributed” to her death on July 12 that year at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Ms Bell was conscious and said, “help me, get me out” to a member of the public who found her in the vehicle after noticing it on July 8.
The mother of two had suffered serious injuries including to her skull and brain, and developed acute meningitis.
Mr Yuill, a father of five, died at the scene either at or shortly after the time of the accident, which is estimated to have happened at 6.17am on July 5.
Experts agreed that his “very severe injuries” were not survivable regardless of the timing of medical intervention.
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