Death investigations

Court process begins for the FAI into the death of Harris Macdonell

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has lodged a First Notice to begin the court process for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Harris James Macdonell.

The 19-year-old died in the early hours of 19 August 2020 when he was electrocuted after climbing an electricity pylon. 

A preliminary hearing is set for 7 August 2024 at Selkirk Sheriff Court.          

The purpose of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) includes determining the cause of death; the circumstances in which the death occurred, and to establish what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.    

Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than to apportion blame.          

This Inquiry will explore the circumstances of Harris’ death, with an anticipated focus on the care and treatment provided to him by NHS Lothian and NHS Borders prior to his death. 

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on death investigations for COPFS, said:          

“The tragic death of Harris Macdonell occurred in circumstances giving rise to significant public concern and as such a discretionary Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held.        

“The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.       

“Harris’ family will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”  

Further information

For more information on Fatal Accident Inquiries, see the Crown’s guide