Death investigations

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

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 50-year-old William Kirkwood.

Mr Kirkwood was found dead in his cell within HMP Grampian in Peterhead on the afternoon of 29 April 2022.

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 14 February 2024 at Peterhead 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 death of William Kirkwood 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