Nine members of crime gang behind torture of Lothians man ‘jailed for 90 years’

Clockwise from top left: Gerard Docherty, Steven McCardle, Francis Mulligan, David Sell, Barry O'Neill and Martyn Fitzsimmons.
Clockwise from top left: Gerard Docherty, Steven McCardle, Francis Mulligan, David Sell, Barry O'Neill and Martyn Fitzsimmons.

MEMBERS of a major crime gang who brought “fear and misery” to communities across Scotland have been jailed for a total of almost 90 years.

The gang, which was behind the horrific torture of a man over an unpaid drug debt in West Lothian and a shooting in Edinburgh, was branded “brutal and merciless” as the sentences were handed down.

The nine-strong mob – which acquired a huge arsenal of weapons – were locked up for their dealings in drugs, firearms, serious violence and dirty money.

Lord Beckett praised the authorities’ “extraordinary ingenuity, courage and commitment” in catching the gang.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean, head of Police Scotland’s Organised Crime and Counter-Terrorism unit, said: “The nine men were involved in the most serious criminal activity, including firearms, drug dealing and extreme violence.

“They were responsible for bringing fear and misery to communities across Scotland.”

The nine returned to the dock at the High Court in Glasgow amid tightened security with armed officers patrolling the court.

David Sell, 50, was handed the biggest jail-term – 15 years and eight months – for his part in the abduction and torture of a known drug dealer which took place in an industrial unit in West Lothian.

Gerard Docherty, 42, was locked up for 10 years and six months after a shooting at the home of Robert Kelbie in Edinburgh in September 2016.

Mark Richardson, 30, was hit with a sentence of eight years and nine months, and Steven McArdle, 33, got seven years and 100 days after they were each caught with Glock handguns.

Barry O’Neill, 37, was locked up for seven years and four months for cocaine supply. Anthony Woods, 44 – described as the “electronics expert” for the gang – got 11 years and one month after he pled guilty to having roles in “serious organised crime”.

Francis Mulligan, 41, was jailed for eight years and 324 days, while Michael Bowman, 30, got seven years for the same charge.

Finally, ex-serviceman Martyn Fitzsimmons, 37, was locked up for 10 and a half years for having a similar weapon, as well as ammunition, and £36,000 of dirty money.

Handing out the sentences, which totalled 87 years, Lord Beckett told Sell he did not inflict the worst violence on Robert Allan. But the judge said he was still involved in a crime that involved “brutal and merciless torture”.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told a hearing in December the crime gang was “the most sophisticated encountered by Police Scotland”. They had been caught during a number of large-scale inquiries.

He said: “Their operation centres on the importation of vast quantities of cocaine. Their role is as wholesalers to other organised crime groups.

“They are at the top of the chain in terms of drugs transactions in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

“The firepower at the disposal of this crime group is unprecedented in terms of the history of organised crime in Scotland.”

The court heard how Robert Allan became a target after he could not pay a £30,000 drug debt. He had earlier met with Barry O’Neill in Glasgow in connection with a large cocaine haul.

Mr Allan later fled Scotland when he was unable to stump up payment, but was tracked to Barnsley, Yorkshire in March 2015.

Mr Allan was initially driven hostage to a industrial unit in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, Sell acted as a “guard” in between the victim being brutally beaten. This included him being whipped with a thick chain, smacked with a metal bar and left with a broken leg after he was battered with a 14-pound sledgehammer.

With other men now on the scene, the victim was ordered to strip and sprayed with a bleach.

The court heard Mr Allan stood “naked, wet and humiliated”.

A hooded Mr Allan was then taken to a rural spot near East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.

Sell was not present – but two of the other men hauled him from a car and pinned him down. Mr Prentice: “Robert Allan was then shot three times – twice in one knee and then the other.”

Mr Allan was then dragged to the top of a hill and ordered to roll down. As the attackers left, members of the public came to his aid.

Sell, of East Kilbride, admitted in court to being involved in abducting and assaulting Mr Allan to his permanent disfigurement and impairment as well as to the danger of his life.

Police also focused on premises and cars used by the mob. These were for the “concealing, packaging and transporting” of cocaine, cash and firearms.

Stolen high-performance cars – including two £85,000 Audi RS6 as well as a £30,000 Volkswagen Golf – were used as “getaway” vehicles.

They also had “distinctive encrypted” mobile phones to communicate as well as fake facial hair and wigs to use as disguises.

The hearing was told the group used “counter-surveillance and anti-surveillance ­tactics” including specialist “signal jammers”.

A shooting at the home of Robert Kelbie in Ratho, was also investigated by police in September 2016.

The court heard Gerard Docherty “discharged bullets from a firearm” into the conservatory of the cottage.

As Mr Kelbie sat down, he heard “loud cracking sounds”. He then got his mum to press a panic alarm.

Docherty was caught after DNA linked him to the scene.

On Docherty, Lord Beckett said the shooting at the Kelbie house was to “terrify and intimidate the householder”.

The judge added Docherty had “lay in wait” in a neighbouring garden in a crime that involved a “high degree of ­planning”.

Detectives made a discovery of a massive haul of deadly firearms at a lock-up in Glasgow’s Anniesland in early 2017. They were hidden in a “engineered compartment” of the rear bumper of a Honda CRV car. The consignment included Glocks, a Beretta, sub-machine guns, a grenade and bullets.

Steven McArdle was caught with Glock handgun at a house in Wishaw in August 2016. In January 2017, Mark Richardson was held after a similar weapon was found hidden in a car in Glasgow’s Baillieston. Ex-soldier turned gun-runner Martyn Fitzsimmons also had a Glock and ammunition as well as hiding £36,000 of dirty money.

The nine face a further hearing this week as lawyers argue whether the gang should each be hit with Serious Crime Prevention Orders, which are designed to tackle the country’s organised criminal gangs.