Glasgow & West Scotland

Parents want blackout death driver William Payne prosecuted

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Media captionMhairi Convy (left) and Laura Stewart were both students at the former Central College of Commerce

The parents of two women who died after they were hit by a car driven by a man with a history of blackouts have called for him to face criminal prosecution.

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 called for a prosecution after a fatal accident inquiry report.

It said the women may still be alive if Payne had disclosed his condition and medics had advised him not to drive.

The Crown has said that it will re-investigate the circumstances of the women's deaths and meet their families at the appropriate time.

Ms Convy, of Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, and Ms Stewart, of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were accounting students at the former Central College of Commerce.

Fatally injured

The friends were on a free period when they headed towards the city centre to do some Christmas shopping.

They were fatally injured after being struck by Payne's 4x4 Range Rover, which had mounted the kerb. Both students died of their injuries at the city's Royal Infirmary.

A fatal accident inquiry, held by Sheriff Andrew Normand at Glasgow Sheriff Court, found the women's 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. His driving licence was withdrawn.

In his findings, Sheriff Normand said the friends' deaths may have been avoided had "reasonable precautions" been taken.

These were:

  • For Payne to have notified the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of his loss of consciousness following his fourth blackout on 5 June 2009
  • For Payne to have attended an appointment with a consultant at Stobhill Hospital on 17 September 2009 and made or attended a rescheduled appointment
  • For Payne to have disclosed his history of blackouts during a medical examination on 2 July 2010 concerning his application for as renewal of his Group 2 HGV licence
  • For the consultant at Stobhill Hospital who saw Payne on 6 October 2008 and 13 January 2009, following blackouts, to advise him not to drive and to notify the DVLA; 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.

"A prosecution and a criminal trial would offer the chance of justice for the loss of two beautiful young women," the families said.

"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."

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Image caption The students died after being struck by the Range Rover on North Hanover Street

The families said they had been "completely devastated by the tragic deaths" of the women at such a young age.

The said: "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 said they had "waited for justice for Mhairi and Laura for nearly four years" and put their belief in the criminal justice and legal systems.

They said: "Much time and attention was focused on Mr Payne's human rights. What about Mhairi and Laura's rights to life? This is not how it should be. Our girls deserve better."

Aiming severe criticism at the prosecution authorities, they said: "We waited these long and extremely difficult years for the Crown to make a decision on whether to prosecute William Payne.

'Unnecessary agony'

"Their continuing failure to make that decision has meant we have had to undergo the further unnecessary agony of a FAI, lasting three traumatic weeks spread across nine months of this year. Our waiting continues. That is incomprehensible to us."

The families 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."

They said their "deepest heartfelt thanks go to those who continue with us in our fight for justice for Laura and Mhairi".

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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