Death investigations

FAI court process begins for man who died in custody

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 69-year-old Robert Chalmers.

Robert Chalmers died on 4 April 2022 at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh after being transferred there from HMP Edinburgh to undergo treatment.

The inquiry is a mandatory inquiry under Section 2(4)(a) of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016. 

A Preliminary Hearing will be held on 26 July 2023 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. The  Inquiry is scheduled to be held on 20 and 21 September 2023.

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.   

It is anticipated the focus of the FAI will be on the medical care and treatment Mr Chalmers received within HMP Edinburgh and the Western General Hospital.

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

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

“The Lord Advocate considers that the death of Robert Chalmers occurred while in legal custody and as such a Fatal Accident Inquiry is mandatory. 

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