Glasgow & West Scotland

Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart road deaths case dropped

Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart
Image caption Mhairi Convy (left) and Laura Stewart were both students at the former Glasgow College of Commerce

A driver who was accused of killing two students no longer faces prosecution.

William Payne was charged with causing the deaths of Mhairi Convy, 18, and Laura Stewart, 20, by driving uninsured in Glasgow on 17 December 2010.

Both teenagers died after the 53-year-old's Range Rover mounted the kerb and struck them in North Hanover Street.

The Crown said the decision to drop the case followed a recent UK Supreme Court ruling which placed doubt over the causing death while uninsured offence.

Ms Convy, of Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, and Ms Stewart, of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were accounts students at the former Central College of Commerce.

Fatally injured

The friends were on a free period when they headed towards the city centre to do some Christmas shopping.

It was reported at the time that they were fatally injured after being struck by a 4x4 Range Rover which mounted the kerb.

Both students died of their injuries at the city's Royal Infirmary.

Image caption The students died after being struck by the Range Rover on North Hanover Street

Father-of-three Mark Hopwood, 36, survived after he was also hit by the car.

It was reported following the tragedy that Mr Payne was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy in hospital after the accident and that he had no idea that he had the condition.

The pub DJ appeared on petition at Glasgow Sheriff Court in November last year charged with causing death by driving while uninsured.

No further court date was set but prosecutors revealed on Tuesday that the charge had now been dropped.

'No proceedings'

A fatal accident inquiry into the tragedy is instead set to take place early next year.

A Crown Office spokesperson said it had been concluded that there "should be no further criminal proceedings".

He added: "The Crown reserves the right to re-raise criminal proceedings should there be a material change in circumstances.

"Crown Counsel have also instructed that a fatal accident inquiry should be held into the deaths, which we anticipate will commence in the New Year.

"We will continue to keep the families advised of the status of the case and any future developments."

The Crown Office said the decision to abandon the case against Mr Payne followed a recent ruling at the UK Supreme Court involving a similar road traffic case.

In this case, Michael Hughes was accused of causing the death of James Dickinson while driving his campervan uninsured and without a licence, following a fatal accident in Northumberland in 2009.

No fault

Mr Hughes' vehicle was hit by Mr Dickinson's car. The 33-year-old, who had taken heroin, later died from his injuries.

Prosecutors accepted that Mr Hughes was in no way at fault for the accident and could not have done anything to prevent it.

He was still prosecuted, however, for causing the death of Mr Dickinson whilst driving uninsured and without a licence.

The case was thrown out by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court but the Crown appealed the case to the UK Supreme Court, where the challenge was dismissed.

The court ruled: "There must be something open to proper criticism in the driving of the defendant, beyond the mere presence of the vehicle on the road, and which contributed in some more than minimal way to the death."

The ruling was seen as calling into doubt the causing death while uninsured offence that was introduced by the UK government in 2006.

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