Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 18:11 UK

Mother fails in death inquiry bid

Dorothy Niven
Ms Niven's family said their fight to find out how she died would continue

A woman has failed in her legal bid for an inquiry into her daughter's death - nine years after a man jailed for her murder had his conviction quashed.

A judge rejected Ivy Niven's challenge to a Crown Office decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry.

Dorothy Niven, 33, was found dead at her home near Glasgow in June 1995.

Richard Karling, 54, was found guilty of drugging and smothering his ex-lover with a pillow. His conviction was quashed on appeal five years later.

Ms Niven and Mr Karling met in a Glasgow restaurant before she became ill.

He took her home in a taxi and maintained she was still alive when he left her house in Busby, East Renfrewshire.

There is nothing in the present case to suggest there are gaps or deficiencies in the investigations to date
Lord Malcolm

At his trial, the Crown claimed he gave Ms Niven Temazepam, before suffocating her, and he was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow.

During the subsequent appeal, serious disputes arose over evidence of the Temazepam being in Ms Niven's body and over any asphyxiation.

Mr Karling served five years in prison before the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh decided he had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and overturned the conviction.

He was subsequently awarded nearly £892,000 in compensation.

Ms Niven's family have since sought an explanation into her death and maintain that the direct causes are unclear.

The Crown Office told their solicitors last year a fatal accident inquiry or public inquiry would not be held.

Ivy Niven challenged the decision in a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, arguing the failure to hold an inquiry breached European human rights legislation.

'Living nightmare'

But in his ruling judge Lord Malcolm stated: "There is nothing in the present case to suggest there are gaps or deficiencies in the investigations to date such as would undermine the protections and prohibitions contained in the domestic law, nor question the state's willingness to investigate and prosecute in appropriate cases."

He added: "The fact that there remain unanswered questions does not cast doubt on nor undermine the ability of the criminal justice system in Scotland to operate in a manner which is capable of identifying criminal liability."

Ivy Niven said she was disappointed but determined to continue her fight.

"It is now 14 long and painful years since Dorothy died, and ever since that terrible night my son Paul and I have been living through a nightmare which will now drag on for even longer," she said.

"But neither of us will rest until we find out the truth about how Dorothy died."

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