POLICE Scotland was last night under mounting pressure to explain why its officers took three days to follow up a report of a car crash which claimed the life of a young father and left his partner seriously injured.
An investigation is under way into how the force failed to act on a phone call from a member of the public that a Renault Clio had gone off the M9 motorway at Stirling.
Its driver, John Yuill, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene after police attended the site on Wednesday, three days after the initial call. Passenger Lamara Bell, 25, remains in a critical condition in Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) is undertaking a review of the case, but there were calls yesterday for justice secretary Michael Matheson to intervene and commit to a wider, independent review.
It comes as friends and relatives rounded on Police Scotland for the way they handled the incident, with Ms Bell’s father condemning officers who “ignored” the case for 72 hours.
Mr Yuill and Ms Bell were reported missing after visiting friends in Loch Earn in Stirlingshire in the early hours of Sunday morning.
After they had not been in touch with loved ones, police issued a missing persons’ appeal on Monday, describing their disappearance as “completely out of character.”
However, it has since emerged the force received a report on Sunday morning about a car which was off the road – Mr Yuill’s Renault Clio – but it is understood the person who took the call did not pass it on to staff who would investigate.
Ms Bell’s father, Ossie Dinnefash, said: “Lamara was in a field for three days after the accident. She was on her way home. Because of some nice guy that phoned it in and was ignored by the incident room, the messages were never passed on.
“Now my daughter is laying on life support. All I can ask from everybody is help tonight, tell her to wake up.”
Mr Yuill’s father, Gordon, said his son’s injuries were so severe that he died on impact, but that his girlfriend could have been helped sooner.
“I feel it may have made a difference for Lamara. My heart goes out to her family for that,” he said.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, said he was “deeply sorry” that the couple had been “failed” and demanded answers.
“It is right that the PIRC is investigating the matter but that may not be enough. A wider independent investigation may be required.
“I want the justice secretary to review whether an investigation by the PIRC is sufficient. The operation of Police Scotland is under scrutiny here and we need an investigation to match its serious nature.”
Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “This is a truly shocking incident. People lying unattended at the side of the road for days is something you’d be surprised to encounter in the Third World.
“The circumstances leading to this must be investigated as a matter of absolute urgency.”