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 48-year-old John Barnes.

Mr Barnes died on 29 July 2022 at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert. Mr Barnes had been an inmate within HMP Glenochil when he was admitted to the hospital on 24 July 2022 following a hypoglycaemic event. 

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 22 January 2024 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.  

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.  

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

“The Lord Advocate considers that the death of John Barnes 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.” 

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