An elderly couple have been left with horrific injuries after thugs ran their car off the road and set it on fire in an arson attack, say family members.
Martha and George Stewart "are lucky to be alive" after a group of men poured petrol inside the car and torched it during a violent row.
George, 67, has agonising burns to 20 per cent of his body while Martha, 61, suffered a head injury so severe during the crash that her skull was exposed.
It is understood the incident happened after the couple’s son was involved in an altercation with another man at a campsite and they tried to intervene, the Daily Record reports.
The Stewarts, described as “quiet-living” travellers from Elgin, Moray, were visiting their daughter on Sunday when they were surrounded and set upon by the group of six men at Longman Caravan Park in Inverness.
After using another vehicle to force the couple’s Citroen into a ditch, the men poured petrol inside the car and set it alight.
George and Martha, who was knocked out, were engulfed by flames but their daughter and son pulled them out and saved their lives.
A close family member said: “It was a brutal attack and they are both lucky to be alive. The group seemed to know they were coming and were out for blood. They tried to kill them.
“George and Martha have been left traumatised and are lucky to have survived. The wound on Martha’s head was so bad that her skull was exposed, while she’s had nine stitches inserted across her forehead.
“She will probably be left scarred for life and her face is black and blue. George suffered 20 per cent burns to his back, face, neck and shoulders. He was in a bad way.”
It’s believed the attack may be linked to a feud with another family at the park.
The family member added: “At first, the fight was just between two men but then six guys jumped in and started really beating George and Martha’s son. Things turned really nasty and they got out of the car to try to protect him and that’s when the scumbags turned on them.
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“They were threatening them with Stanley knives and a pickaxe before they managed to get back in the car.
“They were trying to flee when they were rammed off the road and into a ditch. Martha was badly injured by the impact and was knocked unconscious.
"Her skull was visible and she was losing a lot of blood. The window was down a bit and that’s when the gang poured petrol through it. It went all over George and then the car went up in flames. They were incredibly lucky to get out alive.
“Martha’s daughter risked her own life to pull her mum out of the burning car and George was covered in flames trying to help them. It was awful.
“We are just trying to come to terms with what’s happened. They were just visiting their daughter, nobody thought it would kick off like this.”
After police and paramedics arrived at the site, the couple were rushed to hospital in Inverness.
George, who is described as being well-respected among the travelling community, was being transferred to the specialist burns unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.
The source said: “George is in a lot of pain and has been given morphine.
“His back and shoulders are covered in painful blisters and he needed six litres of fluid put into him on Sunday. We don’t know when he’ll get out of hospital and he’s got a long road ahead of him. He’ll probably need skin grafts, I don’t think he’s taken it in yet.
“Martha is in shock, she just can’t believe what happened. It’s going to take a long time before they will be able to get over something like this.
“They are lovely people who wouldn’t hurt anyone. They were just trying to protect their son and did not deserve to be treated like this. The entire community is shocked.”
The source added: “We are all worried what could happen next.
“We won’t feel safe until the people who did this are locked up. They are total scum and can’t be allowed to walk away unpunished. George and Martha could have been killed.”
Police said their investigation was ongoing and that they were following a positive line of inquiry. However, they appealed for anyone with any information to contact them.
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