Policeman ‘tortured’ by his failure to log M9 crash call, inquiry hears

A retired police officer has apologised to the families of two people who lay undiscovered for days in a crashed car after he failed to log a call reporting the incident, saying he is “tortured” by what happened.

Retired police sergeant Brian Henry, 61, said he feels “dreadful” for the families of Lamara Bell and John Yuill and that the incident “lives with me every day and will always do so”.

Ms Bell, 25, and Mr Yuill, 28, died after the car they were in left the M9 near Stirling on July 5, 2015 as they drove back from a camping trip.

They lay in their Renault Clio for three days before being discovered on July 8, despite police previously being alerted to the incident.

Mr Henry said he cannot explain why he failed to log the call about the crashed car and that he goes over what happened again and again in his mind.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) at Falkirk Sheriff Court previously heard Mr Henry took a call from a member of the public on July 5 reporting a car off the road and recorded it in his police notebook, but he failed to log it into the Storm case management system and no action was taken.

In the statement, Mr Henry said: “I want to say at the outset how dreadful I feel for the families and their loss. This incident lives with me every day and will always do so.

“I know the grief and loss that the families feel is not something that will ever leave them.

“I want them to know that having given my whole life to serving Police Scotland, it’s devastating to me that I have been involved in the events of that day.”

In a message directed at the families, he added: “I want them to know I am sorry for their loss. I still torture myself trying to work out what actually happened.

“As a police officer I was always proactive, I always went the extra mile, which is why explaining this is so hard and I go over it again and again.”

Mr Anderson then asked Mr Henry whether the words in his statement still express what he wants to convey to the inquiry, and he replied: “Yes they do.”

The crashed car was discovered on July 8, 2015 after another member of the public rang police to report seeing it and emergency services went to investigate.

Mr Yuill was pronounced dead at the scene and Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.

M9 crash scene
The car was found several days after the crash, after police failed to log a call reporting the incident correctly (PA)

Mr Henry was working an overtime shift at Bilston Glen call centre at the time of the incident.

The inquiry also heard a joint minute agreed by participants which was read out by junior counsel to the inquiry Elaine Smith.

It stated that Mr Henry could not explain his omission to log the call, which was described as “simple human error”.

The inquiry heard the sergeant had worked several overtime shifts at Bilston Glen and was considered a “diligent” and “conscientious” worker who tried to resolve the issues on a call.

The minute stated Mr Henry was “inadequately trained by Police Scotland prior to being asked to answer calls from the public”.

It also said Police Scotland had not identified there was a risk of human error in the logging of incidents and did not have systems in place to reduce that risk.

The FAI comes after the family of Ms Bell was awarded more than £1 million in damages from Police Scotland in a civil settlement in December 2021.

In September 2021, the force was fined £100,000 at the High Court in Edinburgh after it pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which “materially contributed” to Ms Bell’s death.

The inquiry, before Sheriff James Williamson, continues.

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