Claims rape trial witnesses were harassed

John McCallum. Picture: Esme Allen
John McCallum. Picture: Esme Allen
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POLICE are investigating reports of witness intimidation aimed at twin sisters to stop them testifying in court against the depraved uncle who raped them.

Scuffles broke out during the trial last week as John McCallum’s associates sought to harass the sisters and their supporters.

As part of an alleged campaign of intimidation, Rachel’s car was vandalised in Loanhead on July 26, with the mirror smashed and the bodywork “keyed”.

Another relative’s cars were covered in paint stripper while an elderly family member had her house windows smashed.

In a disturbing episode, another relative due to give evidence at the trial was run off the road while driving. Rachel Steadwood and Tracy Brown waived their right to anonymity to talk about the eight years of abuse they suffered at McCallum’s hands.

They too were threatened and each was issued with a panic alarm.

Insiders said that McCallum directed his associates to threaten and intimidate the sisters and their family to try to bring a halt to the trial.

It has emerged that McCallum lied to family and friends that the sisters were 15 when they alleged he attacked them and just “wanted money” to go away.

But the full horror of McCallum’s abuse came to light at his trial and the 53-year-old was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday of raping the twins while they were little girls.

Tracy was given an alarm by police to install in the cafe she runs while Rachel was given one for her home following the threats.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We can confirm we received a number of reports in relation to this matter and each incident was thoroughly investigated at the time, with inquiries continuing.

“The complainers were, and will continue to be, fully updated with the progress of our inquiries and offered all the necessary advice and guidance on personal safety and home security.”

The sisters were abused by McCallum in his caravan at a Duddingston travellers’ site and in Loanhead, Midlothian, where the businessman also lived, between 1978 and 1987.

Each was unaware that they had both been targeted as youngsters and it was only two years ago that they discovered the other had been abused. A family insider said: “McCallum was always seen as a snake who couldn’t be trusted, but no one had any idea of the extent. He thought he was something special because he had a bit of money through tarmacking and various other things.

“He also had some well-know criminal families backing him up”.

McCallum, of Straiton Road, Loanhead, will be sentenced on September 30.