Car crash caller’s guilt over Scots couple death

John Yuill and Lamara Bell, who lay in their crashed car for three days before authorities attended the scene. Picture: PA
John Yuill and Lamara Bell, who lay in their crashed car for three days before authorities attended the scene. Picture: PA
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A MAN who called police to report a car crash which the force failed to investigate for three days has told of his guilt for not following it up, after both people in the vehicle died.

Lamara Bell, 25, was critically injured in the crash off the M9 near Stirling on Sunday 5 July and died in hospital, while her partner, John Yuill, 28, died at the scene.

Sir Stephen House: Resisting quit calls. Picture: TSPL

Sir Stephen House: Resisting quit calls. Picture: TSPL

They were only found in the car on Wednesday, around 72 hours after the accident, despite the incident having been reported to police on the day it happened.

However, Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has refused to quit despite facing growing pressure to resign over the force’s handling of the tragedy.

Sir Stephen’s refusal to leave came as the man who made the initial call to report the crash said he felt guilty for not pursuing it and making further checks with the force.

The caller, who lives locally and wants to remain anonymous, said he was told officers would investigate after contacting the non-emergency 101 number to report the incident. The man said the officer dealing with him on the Sunday sounded like he knew what he was doing and was not dismissive.

He said there was “nothing to suggest they would not take it seriously” and that he “assumed the police would check it out”.

However, the man, speaking to the BBC, said he became concerned on the Monday and Tuesday when the car was still there with no police tape covering it, but thought it “must be awaiting recovery”.

The caller, stating his feelings of guilt, said he was “aware of what was being said about whether he should have done more” but believed police were handling it.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen has admitted that the initial information received about the crash was not entered into police systems.

Opposition politicians have called on Sir Stephen to consider his position, but he has been backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and justice secretary Michael Matheson.

Sir Stephen said he had decided that the “right thing to do” was to stay in his post and to provide “leadership” for Police Scotland.

He said: “In anything like this I consider my position. I think you would be inhuman if you didn’t. You see what’s happened over the last week and think about that, and I certainly have.

“I don’t want anyone out there thinking I’m the type of person that says, ‘I’ll never go, I’ll have to be forced out’. If I come to the conclusion that I should resign then I will resign. I don’t believe that’s the case at this moment in time.”

Sir Stephen added: “This organisation needs leadership; I’m providing that leadership.”

Mr Matheson has ordered Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to undertake an urgent review of all police call-handling following the incident.

The case is also subject to an independent probe by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

Mr Matheson, when asked whether he still has full confidence in Sir Stephen, stated: “Yes, he still has my confidence.”

However, acting Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: “The public’s faith in Police Scotland is now badly shaken and in light of that, Sir Stephen House must seriously consider his position.”