Evil gang who preyed on vulnerable behind bars
A GANG of gypsy travellers are behind bars after a savage campaign of kidnappings, violence and intimidation against terrified workers.
The clan were lead by fearsome Robert McPhee – nicknamed The Tank Commander.
The 65-year-old teamed up with sons James, 45, and Steven McPhee, 37, as well as son-in-law John Miller, 38, to prey on vulnerable men.
The victims – eight in total – came from broken or troubled backgrounds.
One managed to escape but was caught at Glasgow’s Central station and hauled back.
The men were promised work and money doing jobs such as monoblocking driveways for the notorious family.
But, they did mammoth shifts for little or no pay – and were brutally punished if they complained or attempted to escape.
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 £5,000 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.
But they were found guilty following a five week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Robert McPhee – known as Bobby – was convicted of 14 charges, James McPhee eight and John Miller was found guilty of two.
The catalogue of crimes included abductions, assaults and holding workers against their will or in “servitude”.
Steven McPhee had also stood trial, but he admitted to an assaulting one worker near the end of the case.
The crimes spanned between 1992 and 2016.
They stayed at a number of traveller sites across Scotland including one in Bathgate, West Lo- thian and another in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire.
They latterly had a base at Curryside Piggery in Shotts, South Lanarkshire.
Prosecutors said workers were “well chosen” due to being “vulnerable” making them “ripe” to be manipulated.
James Keith was a homeless teenager when he was approached. He was kept in a caravan with no running water.
James was “scared” of Robert McPhee who dished out beatings if more work had not been generated.
James later fled in terror, but remembered being “captured”.
The four were all remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.
The accused appeared at the High Court in Glasgow