Families want ‘blackout’ driver charged for deaths

The scene of the crash that killed students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart. Picture: Robert Perry
The scene of the crash that killed students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart. Picture: Robert Perry
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THE parents of two girls who were knocked down and killed by a car driven by a man with a history of blackouts have demanded that he face criminal prosecution.

The two students, Mhairi Convy, 18, and Laura Stewart, 20, died after being hit by William Payne’s Range Rover on North Hanover Street in Glasgow on 17 December 2010. Their families today called for a prosecution after a fatal accident inquiry concluded that the girls may still be alive if Payne had disclosed his medical condition and doctors reported him to the DVLA.

The Crown Office has said that it will now re-investigate the circumstances of the girls’ deaths and meet with the family.

The two friends, Mhairi Convy, of Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, and Laura Stewart, of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were accounting students at the former Central College of Commerce and on a free period when they went Christmas shopping four years ago.

The pair were fatally injured when Payne’s Range Rover mounted the kerb and struck them, and died of their injuries at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The fatal accident inquiry, held by Sheriff Andrew Normand at Glasgow Sheriff Court, found that the girls’ deaths were an accident which was caused by 53-year-old Payne suffering a blackout while driving. The inquiry heard that, in the three years before the accident, he had suffered six blackouts.

Following the accident, he was diagnosed as having “vasodepressor syncope syndrome”, which results in loss of consciousness and his driving licence was withdrawn. In his findings, Sheriff Normand said the girls’ deaths may have been avoided had “reasonable precautions” been taken such as Payne notifying the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) after his fourth blackout on 5 June, 2009 and for Payne’s GP at Possilpark Health Practice to advise him not to drive and to notify the DVLA.

In a joint statement, the Convy and Stewart families called for Payne to face a criminal trial. The families said: “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.”

The families said they had been “completely devastated by the tragic deaths” of the girls at such a young age and added: “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.”

The families also criticised what they described as “a lack of comprehensive investigation and delay” for bringing about a situation which offered them “no resolution”. Instead, they had to endure “a fatal accident inquiry which was ill-prepared by the Crown, incompetently presented and unnecessarily limited in what it could examine and determine”.

The families said: “The emotional and financial burden of uncovering much of the evidence discussed in the FAI fell on us and our legal team.”

In a statement the Crown Office said: “Following the issue of the sheriff’s determination into the circumstances of the deaths, Crown counsel has confirmed that a re-investigation of the circumstances is to be carried out. A law officer will be happy to meet with the families at the appropriate time.”


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