THEY WERE SO BRAZEN – THEY TRADED ONE CAP­TIVE FOR A TRUCK

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be­lieve the gypsy trav­eller clan could have claimed up to 50 vic­tims.

The charges in­cluded keeping vic­tims “in servi­tude”, ab­duc­tion, as­sault and tor­ture and dated as far back as 1992.

McPhee, 65, James, 45, Steven, 37, and Miller, 38, were re­manded in cus­tody last night after their five-week trial ended.

Robert McPhee was con­victed of 14 charges, James McPhee eight and John Miller two.

Steven McPhee had also stood trial but he ad­mit­ted to as­sault­ing one worker near the end of the case. They will be sen­tenced next month. The High Court in Glas­gow heard that the McPhee fam­ily made a good liv­ing from their mono-block­ing, slab­bing and tree cut­ting busi­nesses.

Their vic­tims – se­lected for their vul­ner­a­bil­ity – came from bro­ken or trou­bled back­grounds.

They were promised work and money. But they did mam­moth shifts for lit­tle or no pay – and were bru­tally pun­ished if they com­plained or at­tempted to es­cape the gang’s clutches.

In her clos­ing speech to the jury, prose­cu­tor Kath Harper said vic­tims’ ac­counts had shown a “cul­ture of con­trol and violence” at the hands of the McPhee fam­ily.

It emerged after the ver­dicts that all four have crim­i­nal pasts.

James and Steven McPhee were locked up for more than five years in 2009 for a ma­chete at­tack.

Robert McPhee has con­vic­tions for fraud and pos­ses­sion of a bladed weapon.

Miller was con­victed of as­sault and ab­duc­tion at Falkirk Sher­iff Court in 2005.

Robert McPhee and John Miller face a pro­ceeds of crime con­fis­ca­tion or­der hear­ing in May.

And prose­cu­tors are also seek­ing a traf­fick­ing and ex­ploita­tion pre­ven­tion or­der.

Dur­ing the lengthy trial, one tor­tured vic­tim told how he was bat­tered and “taught a les­son” when he tried to get away.

An­other lived in a car­a­van with no wa­ter or toi­let – be­fore later be­ing told he was “owned” by the fam­ily.

Ju­rors heard fur­ther grim ev­i­dence of a pet­ri­fied worker “left cow­er­ing like a dog” due to the abuse. One man who fled was also told he had a £5000 bounty on his head and would be “skinned” with a ra­zor un­less he re­turned.

The gang de­nied the charges, claim­ing they were picked on by “overzeal­ous” po­lice.

And they in­sisted they had shown “kind­ness, gen­eros­ity and tol­er­ance” to work­ers.

James McPhee even tried to brand the men as “so evil” for mak­ing up “fan­tasies”.

The vic­tims were kept at a num­ber of trav­eller sites across Scot­land in­clud­ing one in Bath­gate, West Loth­ian, and an­other in Larkhall, La­nark­shire.

The McPhees lat­terly had a base at Cur­ry­side Pig­gery in Shotts, La­nark­shire.

The court heard James Keith was a home­less teenager when he was ap­proached by the fam­ily. He was kept in a car­a­van with no run­ning wa­ter and beaten.

James fled in ter­ror, but re­mem­bered be­ing “cap­tured”. He told the trial: “You had no op­tion, but to go back. You did not get an op­tion.”

James ended up mar­ry­ing Christina, the sis­ter of a fel­low vic­tim, John An­der­son.

But James McPhee tracked him down to her home in Pais­ley and told Christina: “You are di­vorced now.”

She told the court: “I have never seen him (her hus­band) go so white in his life – white with fear.”

John An­der­son revealed how he was “taught a les­son” after he once fled to Eng­land.

He was taken to Larkhall where Robert McPhee punched, kicked and hit him with a broom.

The wit­ness stated: “James (McPhee) told me that it was time to meet his dad. I knew what he meant. I was to get a beat­ing.”

He de­scribed how he was al­legedly at­tacked in the kitchen by Robert McPhee – who he called Bobby – and ended up grounded.

The man said he was punched “all over”, hit with a broom and kicked.

Prose­cu­tor Kath Harper asked: “How strong was Bobby?”

He replied: “A very, very strong man. He is a tank.”

You had no op­tion but to go back. You did not get an op­tion JAMES KEITH

HEAD­QUAR­TERS The site of what used to be the pig­gery in Shotts, La­nark­shire

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