Death investigations

FAI court process begins for man who died in custody at HMP Bowhouse

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 34-year-old Brendan Reilly.

Mr Reilly was found dead in his cell within HMP Bowhouse, Kilmarnock on the morning of 11 June 2021. 

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 15 May 2024 at Kilmarnock 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.   

This Inquiry will explore the circumstances of Mr Reilly’s death with an anticipated focus on SPS guidance in relation to morning checks and how management ensure compliance with the guidance. The Inquiry is also expected to consider the issue of drugs supply within the prison and policies and procedures in place to limit same, both then and now.   

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

“The death of Brendan Reilly 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.”