Glasgow & West Scotland

Six guilty of 'rival gang' murder bids

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCCTV captures a high-speed chase towards the M8 motorway

Six men have been found guilty of a series of attempted murders in what the High Court heard was a conspiracy of murderous violence.

It was carried out by associates of the Lyons criminal family against men associated with their rivals, the Daniel family.

They were convicted of attacks over a six-month period from December 2016.

The final and most violent assault happened on the approach road to one of Scotland's busiest motorways.

The jury was told it was only by good luck or determination that all those who were attacked survived.

Image caption Peter Bain, Brian Ferguson, Andrew Gallacher and John Hardie were among six men found guilty

Brian Ferguson, 37, Andrew Gallacher, 40, Robert Pickett, 53, Andrew Sinclair, 32, John Hardie, 35, and Peter Bain, 45, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

They targeted Robert Daniel, Thomas Bilsland, Gary Petty, Ryan Fitzsimmons and Steven Daniel between June 2016 and September 2017 at locations in Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Manchester.

Judge Lord Mulholland told them the courts take a dim view of such "gangsterous conduct".

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption Police found a haul of weapons in a lock-up garage as part of the police operation
Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption A shotgun was among the weapons

The judge added: "You sought to turn Glasgow into a warzone with your feud."

He said any suggestion of a "private" dispute "could not be further from the truth".

Lord Mulholland said: "Be under no illusion what will be coming your way when you return to court."

The men were remanded in custody pending sentencing next month.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption A Landrover Discovery was found after the attack on Robert Daniel

The first target was Robert Daniel, whose car was rammed by another vehicle before he was chased into a house in Robroyston on 8 December 2016.

Once inside the house he was struck twice on the back of the head with what he later told police was a hatchet or a machete.

Asked in court if he was aware of any ill-feeling between the Daniel and Lyons families, Robert, 29, replied: "Not that I know of."

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption A burnt-out BMW was found after an attack on Ryan Fitzsimmons in April 2017

A month later Thomas Bilsland suffered a fractured skull after he was set upon in Glasgow's Cranhill.

Bilsland, 31, told the jury he was heading to the front door of his mother's home when he was "hit with something from behind".

He added: "I kind of fell.. there were three or four guys with masks on. They were round about me. It was all a blur.

"The only thing I was paying attention to was getting to my feet and away. I was in shock, I panicked."

Image caption Thomas Bilsland suffered a fractured skull when he was attacked

The next victim, Gary Petty, was targeted after he visited an Italian takeaway on 7 March 2017

The court heard he was getting out his Volkswagen Golf when he was struck in Maryhill.

He recalled: "I dropped the food and covered my head to try and protect myself.

"I was just getting hit. I think it was a machete. It all happened so fast."

Image caption Gary Petty was attacked as he arrived at his girlfriend's house with a takeaway

Former soldier Ryan Fitzsimmons was left unconscious and brain-damaged after being ambushed in the street by a masked gang on 28 April 2017.

The 34-year-old was attacked with a sword and a hammer outside the home he shared with his mother in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire.

He told jurors: "It felt like death was coming."

His mother Geraldine, 61, was so affected by what happened she suffered a heart attack in the street.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption An Audi car was used in the attack on Steven Daniel
Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption A machete was found in the back of the burnt-out car

Mr Fitzsimmons told jurors he had "no enemies" but the court was told he was targeted because his older brother, Martyn, was a convicted criminal who had once been charged with shooting a man called Ross Monaghan, an associate of the accused men.

The most savage crime was the assault on Steven "Bonzo" Daniel.

His Skoda Octavia was first pursued in a high-speed chase which started in Milton and ended up in a crash on an off-ramp of the M8.

Hammer attack

The relentless attack which followed almost severed his nose from his face and detached his top jaw from his skull.

The targeted cleaver and hammer attack on 18 May 2017 left the ex-taxi firm director with facial wounds so severe that first responders initially thought he had been shot.

Police later found a car which had been used in the Steven Daniel attack.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption Steven Daniel was chased in his taxi
Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption A tracking device was found under Steven Daniel's car

The Audi S3 had been set on fire but a bloodied machete was still in the back seat.

But detectives were also interested in the cars driven by the victims because they had been fitted with tracking devices.

This led police all the way back to the men in the dock

When officers raided their properties they found samurai swords, machetes, false number plates, firearms and baseball bats - though never any baseballs.

The prosecution evidence pointed to these attacks being a coordinated vendetta but Steven Daniel, the victim of the most shocking attack, denied that the Daniel family were a serious crime gang.

He also denied they were involved in a dispute with the Lyons family and even when asked directly by the judge, Daniel denied he knew of any enemies.