SHERIFFDOM OF LOTHIAN AND BORDERS AT EDINBURGH Sheriff John Horsburgh QC

30 July 2009 A Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Danielle Scott has found that she died from acute methadone and alcohol poisoning.

Danielle Scott was a 17 year old girl who had extensive mental health and behavioural problems from about the age of 12.  In November 2000 she was referred to Possilpark Health Centre, Glasgow, and was subsequently an in-patient in Gartnavel Hospital for about 15 months.  She suffered from bulimia, and engaged in abuse of alcohol and drugs, absconding, self-harming, and sexually promiscuous conduct. 

In June 2003 she was placed under the supervision of East Dunbartonshire Council Social Work Department by a Children’s Hearing.  In early 2004 she was admitted to the Priory Clinic Glasgow.  On 28 April 2004 she was placed in Howdenhall Young Persons’ Centre, Edinburgh, and about 2 months later was moved to the close support unit there.  In the autumn of 2004 she attended college, and was employed for a short period.  After a drug over-dose in December 2004 she was admitted to Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow for assessment.  On 13 January 2005 she returned to the close support unit at Howdenhall. 

On 7 February 2005 Danielle left Howdenhall on a one-hour pass.  Thereafter she picked up a man named Peter Meaney by making sexual advances towards him.  At Meaney’s flat he offered her and she consumed both alcohol and methadone, of which he had a two-week supply.  She collapsed and was placed on a bed.  Some time between 10 pm on 7 February and 10 am on 8 February 2005 she died, and an ambulance was called (see notes below).

The inquiry determined that her death was due to acute methadone and alcohol poisoning.

In addition, the inquiry considered (1) whether Danielle was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder, in consequence of which she might have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1984, and (2) whether she should have been returned to the secure unit at Howdenhall in the last weeks of her life. 

On the first issue the inquiry was of the view that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that she had been suffering from bipolar disorder, but even if she had been, it was unlikely that she would have been detained in hospital, as in-patient treatment was unlikely to have been necessary. 

On the second issue the inquiry was of the opinion that the decision taken not to return her to the secure unit, but instead to concentrate on preparing her for independence once she became 18, was amply justified on a consideration of all the circumstances.  Therefore, since detention under the Mental Health Act or a return to the secure unit under Social Work legislation would probably not have occurred, the misfortune which befell her might still have happened. 

Accordingly the inquiry declined to make any additional determinations or recommendations.

The full Fatal Accident Inquiry report is available at this location: