Crown Office fails to take decision three years after boy’s death

Aamer Anwar

The mother of a boy who took his own life in custody has said she will “cry out for justice for her son”.

William Brown, also known as William Lindsay, died at Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution in 2018 after having been sent there on remand.

His mother, Christine Lindsay; brother, John Reilly and solicitor, Aamer Anwar, yesterday met with the Solicitor General, Ruth Charteris QC, in Glasgow.

The Crown had said it would not pursue the Scottish Prison Service. Last year, Mr Anwar, assisted by Dorothy Bain QC, now the Lord Advocate, presented a victim’s right to review.

A statement from the family published after the meeting said: “We stated it was unacceptable that as we approach the third anniversary of William’s suicide that no decision has been taken by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and the [prison service] operates behind a veil of secrecy, covering up systemic failures and preventable suicides.

“The solicitor-general’s genuine compassion and empathy was welcomed as was her apology at the unacceptable length of time taken by Crown Office in trying to take a decision.”

The statement continued: “A civilised society is judged by the manner in which we treat our vulnerable, the weak, the dispossessed and our prisoners. We believe Scotland is failing the test. There was nothing inevitable about William Lindsay taking his own life, that was clear to anybody that cared to look. Locking people up in dungeons of despair doesn’t rehabilitate anyone, but increases the risk of suicide.”

The statement concluded: “Christine says her son’s cries can no longer be heard, but as his mother it is her duty to cry out for justice for her son.”

Ms Charteris said: “I wish to express my gratitude to William’s mother and brother for meeting with me. I listened carefully to what they had to say about their experience and provided an update on the steps now being taken to progress the investigation into William’s death.”