Ukraine crisis: Scots landscape gardeners held at gunpoint and robbed by Russian soldiers as they drove Ukrainians to safety

Two Scots landscape gardeners who drove a van to Ukraine to help people escape the invasion have told how Russian soldiers held them at gunpoint – just days after they were shot at by Vladimir Putin’s army.

By Gary Flockhart
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 8:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 8:57 am

Gary Taylor, 45, from Bonnyrigg, went out to the war-torn country with his 55-year-old friend and colleague Joe McCarthy, from Airth near Falkirk, to rescue people who wanted to leave but had no transport.

They have been helping people get to safety, taking them across the border to Poland and Romania.

The pair have documnented their dangerous mission in a series of videos posted on the TikTok social media platform.

Gary Taylor (left) and Joe McCarthy (right) have been driving people to safety over the border in Ukraine (Photo: Joe McCarthy)

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme, Joe said: “The last couple of days we've been held at gunpoint by Russian troops, we've had our tyres shot out, we've had our truck ransacked, they've stolen my phone.

“Basically, we ended up on the tail of a Russian convoy. They let us get halfway down for some reason, I don't know why, and then they wouldn't let us past.

“We were told to park at the side of the road and wait for the convoy to pass. And then it was just like open field day for troops.

“As so many went past, some would jump out and get us out the van, held us at gunpoint and rummaged through the van.

“They took what food we had, took what cigarettes we had, took my phone away. And then they shot our tyres out, and me and Gaz were like, woah'.”

The pair were eventually allowed to move on before being helped by local people.

Joe and Gary, who run Ready2Rock landscaping in Falkirk, are continiug to ferry people to the border and do not plan on returning to Scotland soon.

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“We got around 300km (186 miles) away from Sumy and are now heading towards Uman," Joe added. “We will stay there for the night then get back to the border tomorrow. Me and Gaz will stay here as long as we can.”

The Foreign Office advice is that British nationals should not travel to Ukraine.

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