Scottish police plead guilty over death of young woman left in car wreckage for 3 days

7 September 2021, 10:15 | Updated: 7 September 2021, 10:32

Police Scotland pleaded guilty to failings that "materially contributed" to the death of a young couple
Police Scotland pleaded guilty to failings that "materially contributed" to the death of a young couple. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Police Scotland has admitted its failings "materially contributed" to the death of a young mother who lay undiscovered in a crashed car with her partner for three days after the incident was reported to them.

The force pleaded guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday to health and safety failings following the deaths of John Yuill, 28, and Lamara Bell, 25, after their car crashed off the M9 near Stirling in July 2015.

Despite a call being made to police, it took them three days to respond.

When officers finally arrived at the scene, Mr Yuill was dead and Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.

A phone call to Police informed them that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment but they failed to respond to it until three days later
A phone call to Police informed them that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment but they failed to respond to it until three days later. Picture: Alamy Live News

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, 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.

It also failed to ensure the system was "not vulnerable to unacceptable risks arising from human error" and to ensure that all relevant information reported by members of the public was recorded on a Police Scotland IT system so that it could be considered and a police response provided where appropriate.

Read more: Airport bosses call for double vaxxed to be spared testing as huge queues continue

Read more: National insurance set to rise as PM promises not to 'duck tough decisions' on social care

The force admitted that as a result, 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 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 force pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Sir Stephen House, who was chief constable at the time of the incident, stepped down from the role at the end of 2015 following controversy over the deaths.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Breaking
Just Stop Oil protesters have targeted planes at a private airfield in Stansted - where Taylor Swift's jets are believed to have landed just hours before.

Just Stop Oil protesters target jets at private airfield just hours after Taylor Swift’s arrival at site

Live
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre), meets staff during a visit to Morrisons in Wiltshire

General Election LIVE: Poll shows Starmer on top after LBC phone-ins as calls for election betting enquiry ramp up after alleged offences

Exclusive
Watch in full: LBC's exclusive phone-in interviews with Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

Watch in full: LBC's exclusive phone-in interviews with Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

Here's everything we know about missing teenager Jay Slater.

Everything we know about missing British teenager Jay Slater who vanished on holiday in Tenerife

William appeared at Ascot

Prince William shares tender moment with Kate's mother as she suffers mishap at Ascot

Jay Slater's family have warned people about donating to fake pages

'I just want my baby back': Mother of missing Brit Jay Slater, 19, issues plea after 'false sighting' delays search

Keir Starmer came out on top after LBC’s two exclusive phone-ins

Keir Starmer comes out on top after LBC phone-ins – as Rishi Sunak seen as ‘overwhelmingly negative’

OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein is pictured with CEO Stockton Rush, who died on the Titan sub

Oceangate co-founder claims he can 'safely' send 1,000 people to Venus

Labour must ditch 'phoney fiscal rules' and borrow to invest in public services, says boss of UK's largest trade union

Labour must ditch 'phoney fiscal rules' and borrow to invest in public services, says boss of UK's largest trade union

Theo Paphitis speaks to LBC.

'They've lost the plot': Ex-Tory donor and Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis reveals why he's switched support to Labour

Exclusive
Sir David Ormand has criticised the Conservatives for suggesting Keir Starmer is a security risk

Former spy boss criticises 'disreputable' Tory suggestion that Putin and Xi would welcome Starmer as Prime Minister

Justin Timberlake was arrested on Tuesday

'We'll have a lot to say': Justin Timberlake's lawyer vows to 'vigorously defend' singer after DWI arrest

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday

Rishi Sunak set 'to become first PM to lose seat' in election wipeout with Conservatives down to just 53 MPs, poll finds

Starmer and Neville

Keir Starmer tells Gary Neville he needs to win British people's trust, as he warns turning UK around will take 10 years

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives for a visit to Great Wood Farm Early Years Centre, Grantham in East Midlands, June 17

Sunak close protection officer arrested over alleged election date bets

Allen Morgan, 73, said he was locked in a "passionate but forbidden" affair with his now wife Margaret, 75, when he hired a hitman to kill his then-partner Carol

Pensioner found guilty of conspiring to murder wife after hiring hitman amid 'passionate but forbidden' affair