Glasgow & West Scotland

Tenth crime gang member who fled to Spain pleads guilty

Guns - The firearms discovered in a concealed compartment at the back of the Honda car. Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption The gang had an unprecedented access to firearms

A man who fled overseas after being charged over his role in Scotland's most sophisticated criminal gang has finally been convicted.

Paul Scott was the "technical expert" alongside nine other men who were sentenced to 87 years between them.

The 47-year-old electrician eluded police for two years before being caught in Madrid in November 2018.

On Friday he pled guilty to a charge of being involved in serious organised crime.

Scott was remanded in custody at the High Court in Glasgow pending sentencing next month.

The gang were convicted for their dealings in drugs, firearms, serious violence and dirty money.

Other members were David Sell, Barry O'Neil, Anthony Woods, Francis Mulligan, Michael Bowman, Mark Richardson, Gerard Docherty, Steven McArdle and Martyn Fitzsimmons.

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

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told how Scott's role was in connection with "technical and counter surveillance equipment" as well as encrypted devices in order to stay ahead of police.

The court heard Scott was regularly seen with other gang members at properties used by the crew, including a unit in Shawlands, Glasgow.

He was eventually held during the large scale Operation Escalade police investigation.

Encrypted phones

Officers searched a number of properties linked to Scott where they found and seized a number of incriminating items.

In one rural property officers found encrypted mobile phones and £2,000.

During a search of his home in Rutherglen, Glasgow, officers found mobile phones, laptops, an iPad and storage devices were seized.

User manuals and instruction guides for counter surveillance equipment were found as well.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption Counter surveillance equipment recovered by police - used to detect hidden electronic eavesdropping devices

Officers also recovered two machetes and a tracker device in a lock-up linked to Scott.

He was arrested and questioned by police, during which he claimed he had obtained the phone through work for an "encryption company" where he had "picked up some skills".

Scott later appeared in court in December 2016 and was bailed.

It is believed it was around that time he then fled the UK.

David Sell, Barry O'Neil, Anthony Woods, Francis Mulligan, Michael Bowman, Mark Richardson, Gerard Docherty, Steven McArdle and Martyn Fitzsimmons were also later arrested at different times.

They were jailed in January 2018 after they pled guilty to various charges linked to the gang.

Mr Prentice said it became clear Scott ended up living at "various locations across Europe" to "evade detection".

He was eventually held at Madrid Airport and brought back to the UK by police after a European Arrest Warrant was issued for him.

Lord Beckett adjourned sentencing until May 16 in Edinburgh.

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