Death investigations

Fatal Accident Inquiry Determination published following prisoner’s death

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) notes the conclusion of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of 69-year-old Stewart Cuthill.

Mr Cuthill died on 22 January 2022 at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert. Mr Cuthill had been an inmate within HMP Glenochil, near Alloa in Clackmannanshire, when he was admitted to the hospital on 21 January 2022 after becoming unwell in his cell.  

The inquiry was a mandatory inquiry since the death of Mr Cuthill occurred while he was in legal custody. 


The purpose of an inquiry is to establish the circumstances of the death and to consider what steps, if any, may be taken to prevent other deaths in similar circumstances.   

Unlike a criminal trial, a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) seeks to establish the facts surrounding the death and is not a hearing which apportions blame.    

The Procurator Fiscal, who acts in the public interest in such Inquiry, led evidence on the facts and circumstances of Mr Cuthill's death.  

Following the publication of the determination, Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for COPFS said:  

We note and welcome the Sheriff’s determination. 

“The Procurator Fiscal ensured that the full facts and circumstances of Mr Cuthill’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.” 

Further information

Custody Deaths Unit 

The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service has established a team of specialist lawyers dedicated to investigating deaths in legal custody. 

The creation of the Custody Deaths Unit (CDU) was announced by the Lord Advocate in her evidence to the Justice Committee in late 2021. 

CDU was setup as part of a number of reforms designed to reduce the time it takes to investigate deaths, improve the quality of such investigations, and improve communication with bereaved families. 

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