Glasgow & West Scotland

Accountant lied on oath to protect crime gang torturer

David MacFarlane Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption David MacFarlane claimed in court the date was correct as it was his sister's birthday

An accountant who gave a false alibi for a member of Scotland's most dangerous crime gang has been jailed for three years.

David MacFarlane, 61, told a sheriff on oath that David Sell was at his home on 11 March 2015.

But it later emerged the 50-year-old was at the time involved in a savage torture attack on a drug dealer.

Sell was one of nine men jailed for a total of 87 years under Operation Escalade.

To date 13 individuals have been convicted, most recently Joseph Lindsay who managed money for the group.

The investigation is ongoing and warrants remain outstanding for five alleged gang members who are known to travel extensively worldwide.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption The Operation Escalade gang included (clockwise from top left): Gerard Docherty, Steven McCardle, Francis Mulligan, David Sell, Barry O'Neill and Martyn Fitzsimmons.

MacFarlane, of Newton Mearns, Glasgow, insisted that the date was correct because it was his sister's birthday.

But he was charged with perjury after Sell admitted his part the crime, after a pioneering DNA technique linked him to a pistol used in the attack.

During a trial at the High Court in Glasgow MacFarlane denied deliberately lying claiming he was "mistaken" about the date of Sell's visit to his then flat in Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire.

He was found guilty.

'False evidence'

The judge, Lord Clark, told MacFarlane: "There is no suggestion you had any involvement in this brutal and violent offence, but you said on oath he was at your home that day and said you knew because it was your sister's birthday.

"Your position at trial was that you had made a mistake, however the jury concluded you had deliberately given false evidence on oath.

"As it turned out this had no impact on the case as the accused pled guilty.

"Perjury must be dealt with severely. When an oath is taken to tell the truth that is what must be done."

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption Firearms traded by the organised gang were also used to enforce the gang's lucrative drugs operations

The perjury trial heard that Sell was a client of MacFarlane's.

MacFarlane claimed an "agitated" Sell, 51, turned up at his home and told him he had been "threatened by two Irishmen".

The accountant claimed that Sell spent the night and left the next morning.

Sell was later charged with being involved in the attack, which was linked to a drug debt.

MacFarlane told the trial he was then contacted by Sell's lawyer about the meeting at his home.

'Sad matter'

This led to the accountant giving a legal precognition under oath at Hamilton Sheriff Court in September 2017.

Among several claims, MacFarlane insisted Sell turned up at his home on 11 March, 2015.

Months later Sell pled guilty to the abduction and torture. He was later jailed for almost 16 years.

Defence QC Donald Findlay said: "Mr MacFarlane got caught up in something which was not of his making. A decent human being and a decent man is sitting in the High Court.

"He goes out of his way to help other people. By helping Mr Sell he ends up here. It is a sad matter for him.

"This is not a man who poses a risk to the public."

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