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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Family renew death inquiry plea
Scene of car crash
The family called for mandatory inquiries into all road deaths
The family of a young woman who died in a car crash have renewed their calls for a fatal accident inquiry.

Gillian Curran, 24, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire was killed when her stationary car was hit from behind by another vehicle in December 2003.

Earlier this year her family handed a petition to MSPs, urging them to make inquiries into road deaths mandatory.

But Scotland's top prosecutor and the Scottish Executive have rejected their calls for a change in the law.

In a statement, issued by the family's solicitor, the Currans said Gillian had been ignored throughout the criminal investigation into her death.

Gillian Anderson was found guilty of careless driving and fined 500 and banned from driving for six months.

"Horrific damage"

"The fact that the prosecution of Gillian Anderson was discharged by way of a guilty plea to a minor charge has robbed us of any inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Gillian's death," they said.

"We still do not understand how somebody could have caused such horrific damage and only to be considered driving carelessly and not dangerously."

In England and Wales, coroner's inquests are held into every road death.

However in response to the family's plea to Holyrood's petitions committee, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd said he was "not persuaded" they had made a case for bringing the system in line with south of the border.

Mr Boyd said the purpose of an fatal accident inquiry was to address serious issues of public concern arising from death, such as where bad road layout may have been a factor in a fatal accident.

Gillian Curran
Gillian was 24 when she was killed

"However where the accident has resulted from a driver's lapse of attention it is difficult to see what wider lessons might be learned from an FAI," he said.

But the family said where Gillian died was a known accident black spot.

"We feel a Fatal Accident Inquiry would help us understand why Gillian died and hopefully provide important lessons for the future to prevent it happening again," they added.

In her response to the petitions committee, Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson pointed to a recent Department of Transport report which found inquests often gave little comfort to families and gave rise to expectations which could not be met.

"I cannot see the case for following an English model which has caused those difficulties," she added.

Law flexibility

"While I fully understand the desire of some bereaved families to have public recognition of the death of their loved one, I am not persuaded that a change in the law such as the Curran family proposes is appropriate, or that it would always be helpful to families in coming to terms with their loss."

The Lord Advocate went on: "I believe the flexibility of the present law which provides for an FAI to be held where the circumstances warrant it is important and I am not persuaded that a case for change has been made out."

Westminster is currently considering proposals for a new offence of causing death by careless driving, with the maximum penalty of a five-year jail term.


SEE ALSO:
Family urging inquiry law change
20 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Call to review death inquiries
11 Feb 04 |  Scotland
Call for full suicide inquiries
19 May 04 |  Scotland


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