A member of a notorious crime clan convicted of keeping vulnerable men as slaves has been accused of setting up an illegal campsite.
Steven McPhee and his family, including father Robert and brother James, were jailed for a total of 29 years in 2018 on charges of abduction, assault, torture and holding people “in servitude”.
The 41-year-old, who was given three years for an assault on one of the slave workers, has now angered residents in Shotts, Lanarkshire, by buying a piece of vacant land and surrounding it with a 10ft-high fence.
The plot on Rosehall Road is less than half a mile from a pig farm in the town where three terrified victims were kept prisoner.
Since McPhee took over the new site six weeks ago, five caravans and a mobile home have been installed. He is also believed to be living there.
Angry families have lodged objections to the development, which they say doesn’t have planning permission or the necessary permits.
Several residents, who spoke to the Sunday Mail anonymously for fear of reprisals, expressed their concerns at the prospect of a family with such a violent reputation living nearby.
One said: “The site is residential with diesel generators rumbling loudly throughout the night. The construction noise starts at 7am every day and goes on till 9pm. We believe other family members may be moving in.
“I cannot stress enough how angry and fearful we are – people should not be scared in their own homes. I believe there is a huge error on North Lanarkshire Council’s part in allowing these individuals to move into a community, creating a large encampment without permission.”
It is understood the land had been vacant for more than 10 years prior to McPhee taking ownership.
The resident said: “I have contacted councillors, MPs and even the head of North Lanarkshire about our concerns.
“The council states that if you own land, to put a caravan on, you must have planning permission and a site license. The public must be made aware this individual is out of prison for a very violent crime.”
It has been claimed a septic tank, water pipes and waste pipes have been installed on the site without planning permission.
The Sunday Mail spoke briefly to paving firm boss McPhee, who we saw driving a works van in and out of the site. I have claimed not to be aware of any objections or concerns from people about the work.
He also said he planned to build two houses on the land and would be obtaining the necessary planning permission.
When asked about his family’s violent reputation, he said: “I am a peaceful person.”
North Lanarkshire Council confirmed an investigation was under way into the site in Rosehall Road following complaints.
A spokesperson said: “Officials have viewed the site and written to its owner.
“We have also contacted Scottish Water seeking information about whether mains water and sewer connections have been made. Initial responses have been provided to inquiries from a number of local elected representatives and members of the public.
“However, the matter remains under investigation as a planning enforcement case. Anyone who has made representations about it to the Planning Service will be advised of any developments in due course.”
Residents claim there have been unexplained gas and water leaks in the area since work on the site began in late March.
Robert McPhee, then 65, was jailed for 10 years for his part in the slavery racket, having teamed up with his sons Steven and James and son-in-law John Miller.
The victims did long shifts for little or no pay – and were brutally punished if they complained or tried to flee.
James McPhee, then 45, was sentenced to nine years and Miller, then 38, was given seven years, later reduced to six on appeal.
At the end of the trial, it emerged that all four McPhee family members had criminal pasts. James and Steven McPhee were among five men jailed for a total of 26 years in 2009 for a machete attack on mourners at a funeral at Hayfield Cemetery in
Kirkcaldy the previous year.
Robert McPhee has convictions for fraud and possession of a bladed weapon, while Miller was convicted of assault and
abduction in 2005.
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