Tragic students’ families lodge complaint

Mhairi Convy
Mhairi Convy

The Crown Office is to receive a formal complaint about the way it handled the deaths of two students killed when Bishopbriggs driver William Payne passed out at the wheel.

Mhairi Convy of Lennoxtown, who was 18, and Laura Stewart, then 20, from Cumbernauld, died in December 2010 when Mr Payne passed out at the wheel of his Range Rover in Glasgow’s North Hanover Street.

Laura Stewart

Laura Stewart

He had suffered a string of previous blackouts without informing the DVLA, but after years of pressing for a resolution the girls’ families were aghast to learn earlier this year that he will not be prosecuted.

Although originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving while uninsured, the case against him was dropped, and the Crown had still to decide on potential prosecution when the fatal accident inquiry was staged last year.

The decision is argued to echo the case of the Glasgow bin lorry driver - also revealed to have a history of blackouts - whose vehicle killed six people in the city’s George Square.

After the inquiry last year, the families’ lawyer said they had faced “four years of torment”, aggravated by what was said to be the failure of the procurator fiscal and Crown Office to come to a final decision that would allow them to see justice.

The inquiry found five ways that tragedy could have been avoided, and the case was to be reinvestigated.

But in March this year the Crown decided Mr Payne should not be prosecuted.

The families had already called for the resignation of Lord Advocate Frank Mullholland over both cases, and this week submitted an extensive complaint about the way they were treated and the manner in which the fatal accident inquiry into the girls’ deaths was handled.