Police will investigate whether the Scottish Prison Service should be prosecuted over the death of prisoner Allan Marshall, as revealed by the BBC. It is the first time the Scottish Prison Service will face prosecution for Corporate Homicide, the Scottish equivalent to Manslaughter in England and Wales.
Marshall died in 2015 following an incident that resulted in him being restrained by 13 prison officers. The CCTV footage at HMP Edinburgh revealed the 30-year-old was dragged naked, feet first and face down across a corridor in the prison. He suffered several injuries, which led to his death four days later while in an induced coma. His death came five days before he was due to be released, after being remanded for 30 days for unpaid fines and breach of the peace charges.
The officers involved in the incident were awarded prosecution immunity while giving evidence at a fatal accident inquiry (FAI). This was despite the fact the inquiry ruled Marshall’s death was ‘entirely preventable’ if the staff had acted appropriately and phoned the emergency services sooner.
His family maintain the initial investigation into his death was mishandled and that the officers were ‘mutually dishonest’. They requested that the Lord Advocate reviewed his case, arguing that refusing to revoke the prison staff’s immunity meant that they had ‘a licence to kill.’
Now, nearly eight years later, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC has agreed to further investigation, although a statement from Marshall’s family revealed ‘it’s not legally possible to prosecute any individual officers for any part in Allan’s death because they were all given immunity before the FAI.’
The Lord Advocate acknowledged the mistakes made, accepting the initial case work fell short. Following this incident, she promised to review and transform the way in which custody death cases are handled by the Procurator Fiscal. Under new structures and processes, ‘all death in custody cases are undertaken rigorously, respectfully and compassionately.’
Despite these supposed changes, it is still essential that Marshall receives justice and the police are held accountable. Confirmation of investigation brings this reality one step closer. His family pledge to persist in their battle stating ‘we will continue to demand justice for the loss of Allan who was a much loved member of our family, and dear nephew, brother and father.’