Police praise bravery of victims who suffered years of abuse

editorial image

A panel beater subjected two women to a nine-year campaign of terror and physical assaults but is now paying the price thanks to their courage.

Gavin McPhee (35) wooed a teenager then drove her to woods where he beat her up and abandoned her, and attacked his former partner after becoming jealous of her horse.

He was branded a “controlling bully” at Stirling Sheriff Court on Tuesday as he received an extended sentence of seven years – four years behind bars, plus a further three years sentence during which time he will be subject to conditions and possible recall to jail if he offends again.

The court heard McPhee subjected one victim, who was just 18 when she moved in with him, to three-and a half years of “almost continual” physical abuse, and also abused his previous partner, the mother of his two children.

Sheriff Wyllie Robertson told him he had been convicted of no less than 11 assaults on his two partners between 2008 and 2017, involving a knife and to the danger of life, and had a previous record for domestic violence.

He said: “From the evidence in court it’s quite clear you are a controlling bully, and no sentence other than custody is appropriate.”

McPhee appeared for sentence after a jury unanimously found him guilty at a six-day trial last month of assaulting his younger victim on various occasions between October 2013 and April 2017 and his previous partner on various occasions between May 2008 and August 2013.

In the case of his younger victim, now 23, he had originally been charged with attempted murder.

The court heard he rammed her with his Ford Fiesta, punched and kicked her, seized her by the throat, and cut her arms with a knife.

She said: “I thought I was going to die. If he didn’t get sex every day or whatever he wanted he’d get angry. He said I was a waste of space and useless. He started punching me to the back of my head and my legs.

“He was good at being able to aim at places folk wouldn’t be able to see.”

She said the incident in the woods, near Stirling, happened after she had been with McPhee for nearly two years.

She said: “We were out for a drive and he parked up in the woods. He tried to make a move in the car to have sex and I didn’t want to. He dragged me out the passenger side and I ended up on the ground.

“He was punching me all over my head, my body, my legs, and kicking me all over my body. I was begging him to stop.”

He then drove off leaving her at 10pm on a cold night with no phone and no idea where she was.

On another occasion, when she was late out of work and he was picking her up, he flew into a rage in the car and punched her in the face, making her nose bleed. He claimed her face had “collided with his hand”.

She finally left McPhee, of Raploch, Stirling, after he lost his temper when she woke him up as she tried to creep out of their bedroom one morning in April last year to go to work.

He slashed her arms five times with a long kitchen knife he kept near their bed before she fled the house, in Stirling, in bare feet.

Colleagues from the nursing home where she worked picked her up, battered, cut, and bruised, and persuaded her to go to the police.

The court heard he had taken up with the younger woman after splitting from his partner of over five years.

Now a 31-year-old mother-of-three, his former partner said he had grabbed her by the throat and pushed her against a cupboard in their bedroom in Bonnybridge.

She said: “He didn’t like the attention I used to give my horse.”

She eventually had to give up the horse, because his behaviour meant she wasn’t able to ride it enough to keep it competition fit.

Later, while she was heavily pregnant, he straddled her belly, punching her on the head, leaving her in tears.

McPhee denied all the offences, and said of his younger victim: “I treated her like a princess.”

Prosecutor Kirsten Buist said of McPhee: “When people disobeyed him, his paranoia spurred on his rage, his aggression escalated, and he punished them with violence.”

McPhee’s own lawyer, Hazel McGuiness, said: “It’s clear he has difficulties with sexual jealousy, anger management, and impulsivity.”

McPhee, who was also made subject to a non-harassment order in respect of both his victims, turned open-mouthed to his mother on the public benches as the jail sentence was pronounced, but showed no emotion as he was handcuffed and led to the cells.

Detective Sergeant Mark Kane of Police Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Taskforce said: “McPhee committed domestic abuse against multiple partners and is now facing the consequences of his actions in prison.

“I want to commend the courage of his victims in coming forward with information which has been crucial to our investigation, and I hope that his conviction will give them some comfort and allow them to go forward with their lives.”