Jail for offender who left friend in burning Hallglen flat

A man who attacked his "good friend" with a saw before leaving him in a burning flat was jailed for five years today (Tuesday).
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John McLachlan trussed up George McPhee during the attack but untied him before he jumped out of a third floor flat window and fled the scene after setting fire to the property.

The victim was then seen at a window of the top floor flat in Hallglen, shouting he could see flames and was about to jump, but firefighters managed to rescue him using a ladder.

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Police later arrested McLachlan at a hospital where he went to receive treatment for a broken ankle and wrist sustained in his leap from the flat.

John McLachlan was jailed for five years at the High Court in Edinburgh: Pic: ContributedJohn McLachlan was jailed for five years at the High Court in Edinburgh: Pic: Contributed
John McLachlan was jailed for five years at the High Court in Edinburgh: Pic: Contributed

McLachlan, 35, formerly on Iona Place, Hallglen, earlier admitted abducting and assaulting Mr McPhee to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement after tying him up with cable ties, detaining him and striking him on the hand with a saw.

He also pled guilty to wilfully setting fire to the flat on February 24 this year to the danger of Mr McPhee's life and that of other occupants of the block.

A judge told McLachlan at the High Court in Edinburgh that both offences were serious.

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Lord Scott said: "Both crimes carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. You are very lucky that you did not kill Mr McPhee or one other occupant."

The judge pointed out that McLachlan had an 18 year history of offending, including crimes of violence.

Lord Scott said: "Having regard to the whole circumstances of the case, in particular the gravity of both charges, only a custodial sentence is appropriate."

He said it was necessary to punish McLachlan, to deter others from similar offending and to protect the public.

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The judge ordered that he be placed under supervision for a further two year period when he can be returned to jail if he breaches licence conditions.

Lord Scott said a background report prepared on McLachlan confirmed that on the night of the attack he was heavily under the influence of drink and cocaine, but added: "I am sure you know that is no excuse at all."

The court heard that McLachlan lived alone at a flat in Iona Place with a cat, which died from smoke inhalation following the fire. The three storey block contained nine flats.

On the evening of February 23 he was at home with his friend Mr McPhee but in the early hours of the following morning McLachlan made a 999 call asking for police to be sent to his address. He said: "I've got my pal tied up and I've had a mental breakdown."

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Ten minutes later he made a further call and said there was smoke and the operator asked if there was a fire.

McLachlan replied: "No, there's gonna be ...I'm gonna light one … there's going to be a huge, huge fire … I'm going to burn it down."

Police arrived at the block and saw smoke coming from McLachlan's flat and flames inside when they looked through a peephole on the front door. They heard shouting from inside and forced their way in and tried to fight the blaze, but the flames forced them back.

Firefighters managed to get to Mr McPhee and rescue him and he was later treated at hospital for a hand injury which required four stitches.

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Officers found out that the two men had been drinking before they had a "square go" in the flat. But after it McLachlan brandished a large saw and struck the other man on the hand with it, causing a deep cut.

He then "hog-tied" Mr McPhee's hands and legs together behind his back and left him lying on the living room floor.

Mr McPhee then noticed smoke coming from the hallway before McLachlan untied him and gave him £80 before jumping from the window.

Opening the door, Mr McPhee could not see because of smoke and went to the window where he was spotted and rescued.

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Fire investigators found that the property was smoke damaged throughout and that a hall cupboard was completely destroyed.

If police and fire services had not been present it was more than likely that the fire would have spread to two other top floor flats.

Defence counsel Allan MacLeod said Mr McPhee was a "good friend" of McLachlan who has shown genuine remorse for what happened.

He said McLachlan had qualifications to work in the oil and gas sector.

Mr MacLeod said he has indicated a willingness to tackle drink and drug problems and added: "He has demonstrated a very high motivation for change."