Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Family hit out over missed crash

The family of a woman who lay injured in a car after a crash which killed her boyfriend have described their anger as it emerged police were told about the incident three days before the couple were found.

An investigation has been launched into the police failure to follow up a report of a car going off the road. John Yuill, 28, died in the crash and 25-year-old Lamara Bell was seriously injured.

The couple were reported missing after visiting Loch Earn, Stirlingshire, in a blue Renault Clio on Sunday.

Police Scotland said the car was found when officers were called to the M9 near Stirling yesterday following a report that a Renault Clio was off the road.

Mr Yuill was pronounced dead at the scene while Ms Bell was taken to hospital in Glasgow where her condition is today described as "very serious".

The force admitted they had received a report on Sunday morning about a car which was off the road, but it had not been followed up at the time.

Speaking to STV News today, her father Andrew Bell said he was "so angry".

Mr Bell said his daughter was conscious when found and was speaking to firefighters.

"She thought she had been there for 30 minutes," he added.

He also revealed that on Sunday morning he had unknowingly driven by the spot where she was found.

Meanwhile, her mother Diane Bell told Sky News she was "really angry, annoyed (and) disgusted" at the situation.

"She could have died there," she said.

Mr Yuill's father Gordon told the Daily Record: "It wouldn't have made any difference for John. His injuries were such that he died on impact. But I feel it may have made a difference for Lamara. My heart goes out to her family for that."

Friends of the couple have paid tribute on social media, describing Mr Yuill as a "great guy" and a "brilliant dad" and sending their thoughts to Ms Bell.

The crash site is close to the Bannockburn Interchange.

At the scene today, a temporary orange barrier sealed a gap in the fencing where, beyond, a patch of disturbed grass could be seen.

Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson said: "It has come to light that a call was made to police late on Sunday morning regarding a car which was reported as being off the road. For reasons currently being investigated, that report was not followed up at the time."

The matter has been referred to the police investigations and review commissioner (Pirc) by the Crown Office.

A spokesman for Pirc said: ''The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has directed the police investigations and review commissioner to carry out an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 28-year-old man and serious injury of a 25-year-old woman following an incident at the M9 southbound near junction nine at Bannockburn on July 8.''

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said ''serious questions must be answered'' in the wake of the crash.

He called on Holyrood Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to consider whether the review by the commissioner is sufficient in the circumstances.

Mr Rennie said: ''I am deeply sorry that John Yuill and Lamara Bell have been failed. My sympathy is with the family and friends of John and Lamara.

''I have been contacted by constituents and serving police officers who are horrified by this tragedy. They want a thorough investigation into the serious issues raised by the case and whether they are connected to the wider problems with the operation of Police Scotland.

''Everyone agrees that a three-day delay between the initial call to the control room and finding the couple is unacceptable and we need to establish why this happened."

Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, called it "a truly shocking incident" and also called for an investigation as "a matter of absolute urgency".

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts are with the families of the couple concerned at this very difficult time. This matter has been referred by the Crown to the Pirc and will be taken forward appropriately."

A Pirc spokesman later confirmed investigators have started their inquiries.

He said: " The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner has begun an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 28-year-old man and serious injury of a 25-year-old woman following the recovery of a car close to the M9 motorway at Bannockburn on July 8 2015.

"The investigation will focus on why a telephone call made to Police Scotland on Sunday July 5, which reported their car was off the road, was not followed up.

"The Commissioner's investigation will also examine the robustness of Police Scotland's missing person inquiry and look at why that inquiry was not linked with the information received in the call.

"Our team of investigators have now commenced inquiries to look into all these matters and establish what happened."

Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Murray said: "Local Police control rooms across Scotland have been being closed and the effectiveness of the 101 service has been called into question. It is essential that the Pirc inquiry investigates whether the new call centre arrangements led to the report of this tragic accident not being followed up"


From Belfast Telegraph