Fatal Crash 'Could Have Been Prevented'

19 November 2014, 14:11

The families of two young women who died after they were knocked down by a driver with a history of blackouts have called for the motorist to be prosecuted.

Relatives of students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart spoke out after a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of their "innocent girls'' found the crash could have been prevented.

Ms Convy, 18, and Ms Stewart, 20, were walking in Glasgow's North Hanover Street on December 17 2010 when a Range Rover apparently lost control, mounted the kerb and hit them.

William Payne, who was 50 at the time of the crash, appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court in November 2012 accused of causing death by driving while uninsured, but charges against him were dropped the following November.

The inquiry heard that in the three years before the fatal accident, Mr Payne had six blackouts.

In his FAI determination released today, Sheriff Andrew Normand found five "reasonable precautions'' could have prevented the accident, which happened after Mr Payne suffered a "vasovagal episode'' and temporarily lost consciousness, losing control of the vehicle.

These included for Mr Payne to have notified the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about his blackouts after his loss of consciousness on June 5 2009, and for him to have attended the appointment made for him with a consultant at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, on September 17 that year for further examination about blackouts.

Another step would have been for him to have disclosed "accurate and complete information'' about his history of blackouts at a medical examination on July 2 2010 in connection with an application for renewal of his Group 2 (HGV) driving licence.

Further precautions would have been for the consultant who saw Mr Payne at Stobhill Hospital for a follow-up consultation on January 13 2009 after he was admitted to hospital on October 6 2008 following blackouts to have advised him not to drive and to notify the DVLA about his blackouts, and for Mr Payne's GP to have advised him not to drive and to notify the DVLA about his blackouts, pending his further consultation with the consultant.

In a statement, the relatives said: "Both of our families are completely devastated by the tragic deaths of our girls at such a young age.

"The lies of one man, described in the determination as less than entirely frank, self-serving and lacking in credibility, took the lives of our two innocent girls and his actions have killed a piece of all us.

"We have waited for justice for Mhairi and Laura for nearly four years, putting our belief in the criminal justice and legal systems. We waited these long and extremely difficult years for the Crown to make a decision on whether to prosecute William Payne.

"Their continuing failure to make that decision has meant we have had to undergo the further unnecessary agony of a FAI, lasting three traumatic weeks spread across nine months of this year. Our waiting continues. That is incomprehensible to us.''

They added: "Much time and attention was focused on Mr Payne's human rights. What about Mhairi and Laura's rights to life? This is not how it should be. Our girls deserve better.''

They said Sheriff Normand had given them a "ray of hope'' by referring to comments made by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service that they reserve the right to prosecute and will review the case again.

The families said: "It is our deep hope that they are true to their word. A prosecution and a criminal trial would offer the chance of justice for the loss of two beautiful young women.

"It is in the gift of the Crown to see justice served and send a message to the wider public that such conduct will not be tolerated. In, doing so, the Crown may be able to prevent other families from suffering in the same way as we have.''