By Russell Findlay
A teenager who was raped at knifepoint by a Scot on a holiday island has spoken about the life-changing attack for the first time.
The victim told STV News that she had to beg Thomas McLean to spare her life during the prolonged ordeal on Zante in June 2014.
McLean was convicted in his absence by a Greek court and sentenced to a ten-year prison sentence – but today remains free in Whitburn, West Lothian, as he fights against being extradited.
Now aged 23, and with Saturday marking the fifth anniversary of the rape, the victim has decided to break her silence in the hope that justice will finally be done.
Still struggling to talk about the horrors she experienced, she told STV News: “I was choked to the point where I almost passed out.
“And from there I was that scared I just did everything that he told me to do and wanted me to do. It was life and death… I did [think I was going to die]. I was held hostage for at least two hours.
“I’ve had therapy, counselling. I still suffer with nightmares. I sometimes get scared to go places.
“My whole life’s changed. I wanted to travel and I’ve stopped all that because of him. He’s turned my life upside down.”
Former lorry driver McLean, 62, spotted then stalked his victim while she was working in a bar – just four days after arriving on Zante as a happy and carefree 18-year-old.
She remembers McLean making sleazy comments but ignored him. However, he waited for her to return from work to the apartment block in which he was also staying.
CCTV footage showed him following immediately behind her as she went inside. He then barged into the bathroom and choked her almost unconscious.
For around two hours, she suffered a violent and prolonged attack which ended with her pleading for her life as he wielded a blade and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
She said: “I actually persuaded him to leave; he threatened me saying this was it and this is how it was going to end.”
After his arrest, McLean lied. He initially claimed that he had never been inside the apartment but this was disproved by CCTV.
He then said he’d known his victim for several weeks – unaware that she had only just arrived on Zante.
He then claimed she had consented to sex, but the court found him guilty in his absence after he failed to return for trial.
A formal extradition request was made by the Greek authorities following an STV News report in 2017.
But the extradition case at Edinburgh Sheriff Court has suffered a series of delays as McLean argues that the conditions in the Greek prison may not be good enough. His lawyer has asked the court to seek an independent report about prison conditions.
The delays and the decision to grant McLean taxpayers’ money for legal fees has infuriated his victim, who said: “I work, I’m paying taxes, I’m paying for his legal aid which is disgusting and yet he’s still living his life.
“I think it’s disgusting after what he’s done and what he could have done to someone else and he’s still out there.
“I just think it’s not right after everything I’ve gone through and my family’s gone through that he’s still out. We’ve been put through hell.”
McLean has recently moved from his £60,000 home in Whitburn and now lives alone in a rented property nearby, venturing out to visit relatives in the town and occasionally walking with a stick.
His victim and her mother – who was last year diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – have vowed to do whatever they can to ensure that McLean is finally put behind bars.
The victim, who lives in north-west England, said: “It’s not only turned my life upside down but also my mum’s, she feels like she can’t let me out of her sight.
“When I know he’s locked away then that’s when I’ve got my justice, and my mum as well.”
Her mother described the five-year fight as “unbelievable” and is “begging” the sheriff to extradite McLean.
She said: “He’s getting legal aid and we paid thousands and thousands of pounds to fight this in court. He left the police cells and just never went back.
“I just think he’s a pathetic excuse for a man. I really do and I think he’s weak. He’s a coward.
“I want to say to him that he should do that [go to Zante] because I will fight until the last breath in my body. And I mean that – I will not give up. It’s been five years and I’m not letting this go.
“My health is really bad. And I just cannot leave this earth knowing that he’s still walking around and my daughter’s here.
“So he should try and be a man and go and serve his sentence because he’s guilty and he knows it. And it just angers me so much.
“We just want our justice and that’s it. I want my daughter to live a normal life and forget about him.
“It’s just unbelievable, to stop his extradition because he doesn’t like the thought of going into a Greek prison.
“Well I’m sorry it just doesn’t work that way. He’s done the most horrendous crime to my daughter. It just makes me sick to even think about him.
“My daughter won’t heal until he’s locked up. We’re being punished over and over and he comes out with the most pathetic excuses.”
STV News approached McLean for comment but he declined.
A Scottish Legal Aid Board spokesman said: “Legal aid is available in extradition cases if the applicant meets eligibility tests set by the Scottish Parliament.
“The tests consider if legal aid is to be paid to solicitors so that a person can be professionally represented in court and the justice system can operate properly and fairly for all concerned.”