A heartbroken mum is being invited to help shape new legislation that will govern how Police Scotland operates.

Stephanie Bonner says the step is ‘more than she could have imagined’ after a near five-year fight for justice following the unexplained death of her son Rhys.

The Criminal Justice Committee has confirmed that it will accept a written submission from Stephanie and provide her with an ‘ongoing opportunity’ to assist with its work on the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill.

Stephanie has been invited to share her views on the process to ensure that there are robust, clear and transparent mechanisms in place for investigating complaints, allegations of misconduct or other issues relating to the conduct of the country’s police officers.

The legislation intends to embed good practice and underline the importance of maintaining the high standards expected of Scotland’s force.

The move comes after the brave mum gave evidence to the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee last year on the issues raised in a petition by Stephanie and community activist Alex O’Kane calling for change to improve the way that unexplained deaths are dealt with.

Rhys, 19, was discovered lifeless in marshland between Easterhouse and Gartloch Village on August 8, 2019.

Glasgow Times: Rhys BonnerRhys Bonner (Image: Supplied)

His death certificate has recorded the cause as 'unascertained' – but Stephanie still does not know the exact coordinates of where his body was found.

Holding back tears, the 39-year-old, exclusively spoke to the Glasgow Times of her pride at the invitation, describing it as ‘a victory’.

She said: “I’m just an ordinary mum from Barlanark, so to be invited to give evidence that will help change the law in Scotland is a massive personal achievement for me. Even though I have fought hard for change, it is something I never expected to happen.

“I’m pleased that my son’s voice will continue to be heard and the trauma of what our family has gone through is finally serving a purpose. It is a victory, I wanted to see change and we are going to get that.

“I think about Rhys every single day and it breaks my heart that he’s not here with me. He had everything to live for and was such a kind, caring and brilliant boy.

Glasgow Times: Stephanie Bonner and her son RhysStephanie Bonner and her son Rhys (Image: Newsquest, Gordon Terris)

“I don’t want another family to suffer the way we have. That’s why it’s so important that improvements are made to the way grieving families are supported by the police. I’ve lived it and I know what needs to change. I welcome the opportunity to share my experiences, I’m so proud it will go towards scrutinising and improving flaws in the current system.”

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Alex, who has been instrumental in spearheading Stephanie’s campaign, added: “She wanted to help reform the standards expected of Police Scotland and now she is an integral part of this ongoing process.

“Her voice will echo through the Criminal Justice Committee and their Police Bill and become legislation. Never underestimated a wee mammy from Barlanark, and never underestimated a mother's love for her child.”

Police Scotland claim Rhys’s death was fully investigated and declared it 'not suspicious'.

In December 2022, independent watchdog Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) upheld four complaints submitted by the family, including one that officers had provided the family with the incorrect coordinates of where Rhys’ body was discovered.

It was also found that Police Scotland failed to facilitate a site visit for the family’s representative and didn’t address contradictions and anomalies surrounding Rhys’ death.

A Criminal Justice Committee spokesperson said: “Our Committee has asked Stephanie Bonner if she wishes to provide a written submission on the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill by February 28. Any submission received will be considered as part of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill.”