A couple say they have been driven from their home in Dumbarton’s West End after being wrongly targeted by so-called paedophile hunters.
Shona McLean said riot police shielded her and partner David from a large mob who smashed their windows and set off fireworks outside their property.
Police said the incident in February had resulted from misinformation spread on social media.
Fifteen have since been arrested and charged with “mobbing and rioting”.
The incident was live-streamed online as people launched fireworks and bricks at their house, as well as at attending officers.
Police said up to 300 people had gathered and refused to leave after officers intervened.
Several police vehicles were also damaged in the disturbance.
Ms McLean spoke to BBC Scotland about the ordeal and agreed to be named, though is concealing her face to avoid being recognised.
On the evening of the riot, she said was at home with her partner and a friend when between 20 and 30 people gathered outside the property.
“I heard people banging on my door, trying to kick my door in,” she said. “I’m very lucky that I keep my door locked anyway otherwise they would have been in the house.”
She called the police and the crowd had drastically increased by the time they arrived 20 minutes later.
“It was horrific,” said Ms McLean. “They were trying to kick the door in and all I could hear were the chants saying ‘David, you’re a filthy beast.’
“I can’t imagine anything scarier than having 300 people trying to evict you from your home, believing they’re judge and jury. Not one of them is.”
Escape through back fence
As the situation escalated, the police removed the couple and their friend from the house through the back door.
Ms McLean described how officers cut open their back garden fence to enable their escape.
“We’d the riot police shielding us as we ran down the back garden,” she said.
“We jumped into the riot van but by this time, the crowd had found out that we were getting taken out the back door and the crowd was starting to gather round the riot van.
“Police just had to drive right through them to get us out.”
The couple were taken to Mr McLean’s parent’s house a few days later, but another mob targeted them at the new address.
According to Ms McLean, both mobs were incensed by a post on Facebook which made false claims about her partner.
She said she spoke to police about the allegations who confirmed her partner had no sex offence convictions.
Although the couple are not married, Ms McLean said she took Mr McLean’s surname to demonstrate her commitment to their relationship.
She said: “If you’re going into a relationship with somebody you need to ensure your own safety and the safety of your family. I’d had confirmation that David hadn’t done anything, hadn’t been charged for anything.
“Yet here I am in this situation where I’ve got all these people believing that he has without a shred of evidence – apart from a [social media] post.”
Ms McLean said they have tried to remove the post for years, and her partner has become withdrawn and isolated as a result of the accusations.
“To see the impact this has had on him is devastating,” she said. “He is heartbroken. He doesn’t want to leave the house. He doesn’t even want to go out to walk the dog.
“He’s furious at why it’s still going on so many years later.”
‘Nothing I can do’
As a result, the terrified couple have not been able to return to their home in Dumbarton since the riot in February.
The property has been boarded up and the couple have had to give up their belongings and pets.
Ms McLean added: “We’ve been through three hotels, two different family members, two temporary flats and we’re still waiting on our permanent flat.”
She said social media platforms should take more responsibility for removing posts with damaging and unfounded allegations as they could encourage similar vigilante action.
“This isn’t going to go away, I don’t feel as though it is,” she said. “There is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening again. And it’s not just me – it’s happening to lots of people out there.”
After this article was published, Facebook owner Meta confirmed the post had been removed for “violating community guidelines”.
A spokesperson said people can report defamatory content via an online form, adding: “We also support police investigations when we receive a valid legal request.”
Top picture: The Brucehill housing estate in West Dumbarton where the incident took place.
Dumbarton is a strange place.