Death investigations

Fatal Accident Inquiry Determination published following skipper drowning incident

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) notes the conclusion of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of John Wilson.

Mr Wilson, 64, was a fisherman, who lived in St Abbs, Berwickshire. 

He was on board his boat the Harriet J near Meikle Poo Craig when he was pulled overboard after his foot became entangled in a chain weight on 28 August 2021. He was in the water for approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes before being found. 

The inquiry was a mandatory inquiry since the death of Mr Wilson occurred while in the course of his employment.   


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 Inquiries (FAI) seeks to establish the facts surrounding the death and is not a hearing which apportions blame.   

The Procurator Fiscal led comprehensive information from a range of sources on the facts and circumstances of Mr Wilson's death.  

The Sheriff recommended that crew members of single person operated fishing vessels should wear Personal Locator Beacons and Personal Floatation Devices at all times whilst at sea. 

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 Wilson’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.