Stirling Observer


Mum’s relief as police admit failings


Police Scotland have admitted health and safety failings led to the death of a young mother following a car crash near Stirling in 2015.

The deaths of John Yuill, 28 and Lamara Bell, 25, prompted criticism of the force after their car lay undiscover­ed down the embankment on the M9 near Bannockbur­n - with officers taking three days to arrive at the scene after the accident was reported.

When police did arrive at the car, they found Mr Yuill already dead and Ms Bell seriously injured.

The young mother went on to pass away in hospital a short time later.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the force pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety Act and admitted its failings over the case had “materially contribute­d” to Ms Bell’s death.

They were fined £100,000.

Judge Lord Beckett said no sentence would likely make up for the tragedy and said while a private company likely would have faced a fine running into the millions, Police Scotland was a public body funded by the taxpayer.

Yesterday Lamara’s mum, Diane Bell, said: “Finally, we can say – Lamara has justice.

“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. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us since 2015.

“Our family and friends, the local community, our legal team and also the media whose spotlight helped make sure the failures that led to Lamara’s death could not be swept under the rug.”

During the court hearing, the office of the Chief Constable of Police Scotland admitted that it failed to ensure that people including Mr Yuill and Ms Bell were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to provide an “adequate and reliable call-handling system” between April 1, 2013 and March 1, 2016.

The force admitted that members of the public were exposed to risks to their health and safety and, in particular on July 5, 2015, a police officer at the force call-handling centre at Bilston Glen Service Centre failed to record a phone call from a member of the public 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 indictment says the phone call was not recorded on any Police Scotland IT system and the failure went unnoticed with “no proper considerat­ion of the report and no opportunit­y for an appropriat­e response from Police Scotland”.

The tragic crash took place in July 2015 when the Falkirk couple were returning from a camping trip in Perthshire before John’s car came off the motorway and slid down the embankment by the side of the busy motorway.

A member of the public who spotted the vehicle called police but, despite the call being answered, it was not logged on police systems and it wasn’t until a similar call was made three days later that officers were dispatched and found the car.

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 ??  ?? Tragic loss Lamara Bell, who died aged 25 following crash
Tragic loss Lamara Bell, who died aged 25 following crash

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