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Gang kidnapped and beat workers at Travellers' sites

The vulnerable men were brutally punished in West Lothian and South Lanarkshire.

A group of Travellers kidnapped and beat workers across Scotland.

Robert McPhee, 65, and John Miller, 38, were found guilty of servitude and violence in West Lothian and South Lanarkshire.

James McPhee, 45, was found guilty of assault and abduction.

The offences were carried out at Travellers' sites including ones in Bathgate and Larkhall as well as at a piggery in Shotts.

Robert McPhee: Head of the family.
Robert McPhee: Head of the family.

The clan, who were headed by Robert McPhee - nicknamed The Tank Commander - were found guilty of more than 20 charges between them.

He teamed up with sons James and Steven, 37, as well as son-in-law John Miller to carry out the beatings on eight victims.

Steven McPhee pleaded guilty to assault earlier in the trial.

The vulnerable men were promised work and money doing jobs such as mono-blocking driveways for the family.

John McPhee: Guilty of assault and abduction.
John McPhee: Guilty of assault and abduction.

The workers did long shifts for little or no pay and were brutally punished if they complained or attempted to escape the gang's clutches.

One of the victims lived in a caravan with no water or toilet before later being told he was "owned" by the family.

Steven McPhee: Punished victims.
Steven McPhee: Punished victims.

One petrified worker was "left cowering like a dog" due to the abuse.

Another who fled was also told he had a £5000 bounty on his head and would be "skinned" with a razor unless he returned.

The offences occurred between 1992 and 2016.

James McPhee: Offences between 1992 and 2016.
James McPhee: Offences between 1992 and 2016.

Detective chief inspector Kevin Jamieson said: "The men preyed on vulnerable young adults, including those living in homeless accommodation, and lured them into working for them with the promise of a much better life.

"They then carried out sickening acts of violence on them and continued to exploit them, forcing them to carry out heavy manual labour work with absolutely no return.

"Despite the horrific ordeal the victims were subjected to, they have had the courage to speak out about what happened and their information has been vital to investigating this case.

"I would like to thank them for their bravery in what must have been a very daunting task to report their experiences to police and then have the courage to provide their evidence in court. I hope today's verdict can in some way help them to move forward with their lives.

"There may well be other victims who have suffered at the hands of these men, and I would encourage them to come forward."

The four men will be sentenced next month.

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