'FATAL CONSEQUENCES' M9 crash victim Lamara Bell’s pain was ‘incomprehensible’ as she lay dying in car for 3 days, inquiry rules

A CRASH victim endured “almost incomprehensible” suffering as she was left dying in a car for three days, an inquiry has ruled.

Lamara Bell, 25, was found trapped in the wreck after the horror smash - with her partner lying dead next to her

Lamara Bell was left for three days in a crashed car on the M9
Lamara Bell was left for three days in a crashed car on the M9
John Yuill, Lamara's partner, died in the crash in 2015
John Yuill, Lamara's partner, died in the crash in 2015
Cops at the scene of the tragedy after they finally attended the scene three days after being alerted
Cops at the scene of the tragedy after they finally attended the scene three days after being alerted

A sheriff has now slammed police over the crash, saying Lamara's tragic final moments were a result of their serious failings.

Today a fatal accident inquiry found that cops ignoring a call about the smash led to the 25-year-old dying four days after she was raced to hospital.

Sheriff James Williamson said that the “failings of Police Scotland had fatal consequences” for Lamara.

He said the woman's “almost incomprehensible” suffering was made worse by being trapped in the wreckage - open to the elements as her partner John Yuill's body right next to her.

The sheriff found that if Lamara had been rushed to hospital quickly after the smash her head injury would have been managed and complications “substantially avoided”.

The inquiry heard the couple were heading home from a camping trip when their Renault Clio left the road near Stirling on July 5, 2015.

In the moments after the smash a farmer called 999 to report seeing the vehicle down an embankment.

But a blunder at a police call-handling centre meant their response was delayed.

At the inquiry at Falkirk Sheriff Court, Mr Yuill — clocked travelling at 91mph in the hours before the crash — was described as a “boy racer”.

The sheriff told the hearing that if Mr Yuill, 28, had taken reasonable precautions — including choosing not to drive — the crash might never have happened.

He was a provisional driver with a 30-joints-a-day cannabis habit, the inquiry heard.

CCTV footage showed his blue Clio striking a kerb and bouncing back in a parking bay at Broxden services, Perth.

And Mr Yuill was seen to stumble — indicating he was not in full control.

The sheriff found the crash might have been avoided if the 28-year-old had not been driving at such high speed following a night consuming alcohol and cannabis.

Cops 'failed'

But he concluded police “failed John Yuill and to a far greater extent Lamara Bell”.

Sgt Brian Henry had recorded a call about the crash in his notebook but failed to log it in the system.

The inquiry heard he had been working overtime as a call handler at the service centre in Bilston Glen, Midlothian — then described in the ruling as a “confused, fractious working environment”.

Sheriff Williamson said police had not identified the risk that calls might not be dealt with.

He added that Mr Henry was “inadequately trained and left largely unsupervised to operate a system that allowed for human error to go undetected”.

We told how Lamara’s mum Diane hailed a £100,000 fine for the force in 2021, after they admitted health and safety failings, as justice for her daughter.

'Lessons learned'

And John Yuill’s dad, Gordon, has previously claimed his son could have been saved if he had got prompt medical treatment.

His stepmum died seven years later, before the FAI got underway last September.

Sheriff Williamson’s report said: “Very sadly John Yuill’s stepmother, Anita Dollard, passed away on 24th November 2022. Her passing was prior to the start of the FAI.

“I appreciate the length of time it took to commence this inquiry has taken its toll on Gordon Yuill and his family.”

He noted that Police Scotland’s Contact, Command and Control Division — which oversees call handling — had been transformed since the scandal.

The force now operates a “sophisticated complex of service centres all capable of communicating with each other on a unified IT network”, he said.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs admitted he could not offer any consolation to loved ones of the crash victims.

But he said: “I can give them my assurance that lessons have been learned.

"The relentless improvement of service delivery lies at the heart of everything we do.

“We are studying the determination in detail for any learning which will form part of this continuous improvement.”

Retired cop ‘tortured’ by his failure

By Lucinda Cameron

A RETIRED police officer has apologised to the families of two people who lay undiscovered for days in a crashed car after he failed to log a call reporting the incident, saying he is "tortured" by what happened.

Brian Henry, 61, said he feels "dreadful" for the families of Lamara Bell and John Yuill and that the incident "lives with me every day and will always do so".

Ms Bell, 25, and Mr Yuill, 28, died after the car they were in left the M9 near Stirling on July 5, 2015 as they drove back from a camping trip.

They lay in their Renault Clio for three days before being discovered on July 8, despite police previously being alerted to the incident.

Mr Henry said he cannot explain why he failed to log the call about the crashed car and that he goes over what happened again and again in his mind.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) at Falkirk Sheriff Court previously heard Mr Henry took a call from a member of the public on July 5 reporting a car off the road and recorded it in his police notebook, but he failed to log it into the Storm case management system and no action was taken.

On Tuesday, the inquiry heard a statement prepared by Mr Henry which was read by senior counsel Gavin Anderson KC.

In the statement, Mr Henry said: "I want to say at the outset how dreadful I feel for the families and their loss. This incident lives with me every day and will always do so.

"I know the grief and loss that the families feel is not something that will ever leave them.

"I want them to know that having given my whole life to serving Police Scotland, it's devastating to me that I have been involved in the events of that day."

In a message directed at the families, he added: "I want them to know I am sorry for their loss. I still torture myself trying to work out what actually happened.

"As a police officer I was always proactive, I always went the extra mile, which is why explaining this is so hard and I go over it again and again."

Mr Anderson then asked Mr Henry whether the words in his statement still express what he wants to convey to the inquiry, and he replied: "Yes they do."

The crashed car was discovered on July 8, 2015 after another member of the public rang police to report seeing it and emergency services went to investigate.

Mr Yuill was pronounced dead at the scene and Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.

The inquiry heard that if Ms Bell had been found sooner she would probably have survived, though with the likelihood of a long-term neurological disability.

Mr Henry was working an overtime shift at Bilston Glen call centre at the time of the incident.

The inquiry also heard a joint minute agreed by participants which was read out by junior counsel to the inquiry Elaine Smith.

It stated that Mr Henry could not explain his omission to log the call, which was described as "simple human error".

The inquiry heard the sergeant had worked several overtime shifts at Bilston Glen and was considered a "diligent" and "conscientious" worker who tried to resolve the issues on a call.

The minute stated Mr Henry was "inadequately trained by Police Scotland prior to being asked to answer calls from the public".

It also said Police Scotland had not identified there was a risk of human error in the logging of incidents and did not have systems in place to reduce that risk.

The FAI comes after the family of Ms Bell was awarded more than £1 million in damages from Police Scotland in a civil settlement in December 2021.

In September 2021, the force was fined £100,000 at the High Court in Edinburgh after it pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which "materially contributed" to Ms Bell's death.

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