Death investigations

FAI court process begins for three men who died in custody

The Procurator Fiscal has lodged First Notices with the Sheriff Court to begin the process for conjoined Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of James Garscadden, Thomas Thompson and Marius Bauba.

All three men died while in legal custody at HMP Shotts. Their deaths all occurred within a four-month period and involved the consumption of a variety of illegal and prescription drugs, including etizolam.  An FAI is mandatory under Section 2(4)(a) of the Inquiries into the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016.   

Preliminary hearings will be held on 20 July 2023 at Hamilton 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 all three deaths, with an anticipated focus on how illegal drugs enter the prison estate generally and SPS’s policies and procedures around drugs. 

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

“The Lord Advocate considers that the deaths of James Garscadden, Thomas Thomson and Marius Bauba occurred while in custody and as such Fatal Accident Inquiry are mandatory. The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.   

“An FAI will allow a full public airing of all the evidence at which families and other interested parties can be represented. The evidence will be tested in a public setting and be the subject of judicial determination. 

“The families and their legal representatives will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”