Death investigations

Court process begins for the FAI into the death of mum in Biggar

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 Joanne Gallacher. 

This FAI follows the prosecution and conviction of James Kennedy in June 2019 for the culpable homicide of Joanne Gallacher (33). Kennedy attacked and killed Joanne with a knife at his Biggar home on 21 December 2018 after she went to check on his welfare.  

A preliminary hearing is set for 12 July 2023 at Hamilton Sheriff Court.    

Preliminary Hearings and Dates of Inquiry (    

The purpose of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) includes determining the cause of death; the circumstances in which the deaths 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 Joanne’s death, with particular focus on the way Kennedy was managed and risk assessed by mental health services. The care planning and interagency communications in the lead up to her killing will also be examined. 

Procurator Fiscal Katrina Parkes, who leads on death investigations for COPFS, said:    

“The Lord Advocate considers that the death of Joanne Gallacher occurred in circumstances giving rise to significant public concern and as such a discretionary Fatal Accident Inquiry should be held.   

“An FAI will allow a full public airing of the evidence of the procurator fiscal’s wider investigations with interested parties. The evidence will be tested in a public setting and be the subject of an independent judicial determination.”