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Family of cyclist who went missing on charity ride to sue driver who killed him then hid body

Action against Alexander McKellar seeks damages under Scots law concept of “loss of society”

The family of Tony Parsons, the charity cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver who then returned to the scene with his twin brother to dispose of the body, are suing the pair for damages.

Alexander McKellar, aged 31, pleaded guilty earlier this week at Glasgow’s High Court to culpable homicide after a crashed into 63-year-old Mr Parsons on the evening of 29 September 2017 near the Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll and Bute.

> Motorist admits killing charity cyclist in drink driving collision and burying body

He and his brother Robert also admitted trying to defeat the ends of justice through disposing of Mr Parson’s corpse in a peat bog on the Auch Estate that was usually used to dump animal carcasses.

The Scottish Sun reports that earlier this month, Mr Parsons’ family filed papers with the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s equivalent to the High Court, to initiate the legal action.

Explaining the background to the action, a source told the newspaper: “Usually there are few, if any, means for a victim’s family to sue the killer.

“But in this case a vehicle was involved, opening up the prospect of a civil action to recover damages as there is an insurance policy in place.”

The action is being brought for what under Scots law is known as “loss of society,” under which “damages are intended to compensate family members for the distress, anxiety, grief and sorrow caused by the wrongful death of their loved one, together with the loss of their guidance,” according to the Law Society of Scotland.

Following repeated appeals from Police Scotland after he went missing on his ride from Fort William to his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, Mr Parsons’ remains were eventually discovered in January 2021, a month after the brothers had initially been arrested.

After last week’s court hearing in Glasgow, Mr Parson’s family said in a statement that he was “much-loved husband, dad, and grandad”, and spoke of the “heartbreak” they went through during the years.

“When he said goodbye and set off on his charity cycle from Fort William that Friday, none of us expected it to be the last time we would be able to see or speak to him,” they said.

“Throughout the six years since he went missing and then the subsequent criminal investigation, we had been left with many unanswered questions and it has been heartbreaking for each and every member of the family being unable to get these answers.

“As you can imagine, not knowing what has happened to someone and then the devastating news that we were provided has taken its toll on all of us as a family,” they added.

The McKellar brothers remain in custody and will be sentenced next month.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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9 comments

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OldRidgeback | 8 months ago
4 likes

My sympathies are with the family of the victim in this horrible case. I hope they win their legal case and sue the brothers successfully. As others have said, a lot of credit has to be given to the girlfriend who marked the burial spot and then led the police to the place.

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hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
3 likes

I hope the brothers get charged with "preventing the lawful burial of a body", but it looks like that's only an offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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quiff | 8 months ago
6 likes

Explaining the background to the action, a source told the newspaper: “Usually there are few, if any, means for a victim’s family to sue the killer. But in this case a vehicle was involved, opening up the prospect of a civil action to recover damages as there is an insurance policy in place.”

This seems to be conflating two things - the ability to sue the killer, and the killer being able to pay. Presumably the use of a vehicle and the insurance is not what makes the action possible; it just means it's more likely they'll recover damages.

 

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to quiff | 8 months ago
1 like

The explanation in the article is correct I believe. AFAIK, for a death the only compensation you get is a victims payout from the Criminal Compensation Board if the death is ruled unlawlful. However drivers can be liable for collisions made in the insured vehicle if they are at fault which should be covered by said insurance.

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quiff replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 8 months ago
6 likes

My point was just that drivers (or indeed cyclists, anyone) can in principle be liable in civil proceedings whether or not they are insured. So the use of a car and the existence of insurance is not a legal pre-requisite to bring the claim; but the existence of insurance provides some comfort that someone will be able to pay any damages actually awarded.              

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Capt Sisko | 8 months ago
9 likes

If Mr McKellar's insurance company utters one word of defence or claims mitigating circumstances then they need to be named and shamed. No if's or but's about it. The girlfiriend of the perpritator also needs a seriously big well done for doing her civic duty.

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brooksby replied to Capt Sisko | 8 months ago
5 likes

Capt Sisko wrote:

If Mr McKellar's insurance company utters one word of defence or claims mitigating circumstances then they need to be named and shamed. No if's or but's about it. The girlfiriend of the perpritator also needs a seriously big well done for doing her civic duty.

You do wonder about the mindset of someone who, when about to get married, is asked whether there's anything his prospective spouse needs to know about him, says, "Well, there was this one time I drove home drunk, knocked someone off the road, left them to die while I went home and got changed, came back, and me an' Robert moved the body and all his stuff and buried it up on the moor...".  Did he really honestly imagine his prospective spouse would just reply, "That's nice to know, thanks, love" and do nothing more?

(Devil's Advocate: Maybe this had been preying on his mind but he lacked the cojones to put his hand up and admit to the authorities, so let her do it instead...?)*

 

*No, I don't believe that either.

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WBoy replied to brooksby | 8 months ago
6 likes

brooksby wrote:

 

You do wonder about the mindset of someone who, when about to get married, is asked whether there's anything his prospective spouse needs to know about him, says, "Well, there was this one time I drove home drunk, knocked someone off the road, left them to die while I went home and got changed, came back, and me an' Robert moved the body and all his stuff and buried it up on the moor...".  Did he really honestly imagine his prospective spouse would just reply, "That's nice to know, thanks, love" and do nothing more?

(Devil's Advocate: Maybe this had been preying on his mind but he lacked the cojones to put his hand up and admit to the authorities, so let her do it instead...?)*

 

*No, I don't believe that either.

So grotesque is the entire narrative, that it's almost plausible he did it to impress her...

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to brooksby | 8 months ago
5 likes

You missed out

"Come, I will show you exactly where so you believe me". 

BTW, apparently there was a tip off several months after the incident to talk to the brothers about that night. So you do wonder if they have talked to other people in the past. The report mentioned that Police went to have the chat and they were told to leave as it was private property.  And then nothing seemed to happen after that. Maybe it is "normal Highland behaviour" so ignored but I would have thought the Police would have taken it further to get statements from them at the station. 

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