Robert McPhee (65), James McPhee (45) and John Miller (38) have been found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow today, Thursday 14 February 2018, in connection with a number of serious offences including servitude, abduction and serious assault that took place between 1992 and 2016.
Another man, Steven McPhee (37) previously pled guilty in connection with offences of serious assault and assault.
James McPhee (top left), John Miller (top right), Robert McPhee (bottom left), Steven McPhee (bottom right).
The four men from Lanarkshire carried out their crimes in Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Paisley, Bathgate, London and Manchester.
An intelligence-led police investigation was launched in June 2015 when one victim had the courage to come forward to police. Extensive enquiries were then carried out by a team of experienced detectives who worked relentlessly to gather vital information on the vulnerable people involved, and as much information as possible on the violence and intimidation these people had been subjected to.
Throughout the operation, officers liaised with a range of other UK police forces.
On Friday 17 March 2017, a major policing operation took place in Deas Road, Shotts, Lanarkshire and officers arrested Robert McPhee, James McPhee, Steven McPhee and John Miller.
The trial began at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday 8th January 2018.
Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Jamieson who led the operation 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. Human exploitation in any form, including being held against your will or being coerced to work for no payment, is utterly unacceptable in our communities. We will continue to work with partners locally and overseas to bring those responsible for carrying out such breaches of basic human rights to justice.
“A team of officers worked tirelessly throughout this investigation and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication and commitment to this sensitive and extensive inquiry.
"The investigation team has been fully supported by colleagues and partners from a number of areas including the local Public Protection Unit, The National Human Trafficking Unit, based at the Scottish Crime Campus, and The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
“Our priority was and remains, to provide immediate care and support to the victims, and we were assisted in this by North and South Lanarkshire Council, NHS Lanarkshire, Red Cross, Migrant Help, Social Work and COPFS.”
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston of the National Human Trafficking Unit, based at the Scottish Crime Campus, said:
“These crimes are challenging and complex to investigate, but we are determined to improve the intelligence picture in order to gain a better understanding of trafficking in Scotland and the organised crime groups who are involved.
“Working with partners, we will assess the threat and develop intelligence to safeguard those at risk of, and vulnerable to, human trafficking while identifying those committing, facilitating and profiting from exploitation.
“Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit leads, co-ordinates and supports the Force’s response to investigating all forms of trafficking.”