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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Severin Carrell Scotland editor

Man jailed for life for murder and sexual assault of his sister near Glasgow

Connor Gibson
Connor Gibson, 21, who was found guilty of murdering his sister, Amber Gibson, 16, in 2021. Photograph: Police Scotland/PA

A man who sexually assaulted and then murdered his teenage sister has been jailed for a minimum of 22 years by a court in Scotland.

Connor Gibson, 21, was found guilty in July of attacking and then killing Amber Gibson, 16, in a “truly evil” assault in Cadzow Glen in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, in November 2021.

He was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence on Monday at the high court in Livingston by Lord Mulholland, with no right to automatic parole.

Gibson had denied being involved in her death but was convicted after a 13-day trial at the high court in Glasgow of removing her clothes, sexually assaulting her with the intention of raping her, inflicting blunt-force trauma to her head and body, and strangling her.

Passing sentence, Mulholland told him: “You beat her about the head breaking her nose, removed her clothing and sexually assaulted her with intent to rape then manually strangled her.

“The last person she saw was you, her brother, strangling the life out of her. What you did was truly evil.”

Another man, Stephen Corrigan, 45, who is not known to Gibson, was also sentenced to nine years in prison at the same hearing for attempting to defeat the ends of justice and breach of the peace.

Corrigan had previously been found guilty of intimately touching and then concealing Amber Gibson’s body after finding it in the two days between her death and the police being alerted, but had failed to alert the emergency services.

The Gibsons, who had been fostered from an early age, were living separately at the time of the killing. Amber was living at a children’s home in Hamilton while her brother was in a homeless hostel, where items of stained clothing were found in a bin after the murder.

Bloodstains on Gibson’s jacket had been compatible with Amber; his DNA was also found on her shorts, which had been torn off, and on multiple locations on her body. Gibson told the court he was at a “complete loss” as to why his DNA was found on her.

The prosecution produced CCTV footage showing the siblings together that evening. After her murder, Gibson called his sister’s children’s home to pretend she was still alive.

Tony Graham KC, defending Gibson, told the court he had suffered “an appalling upbringing”, living in squalor and having to steal food to survive. “At the age of 19 he has taken the life of maybe the only other person who would have been able to understand the realities of their upbringing,” Graham said.

“Amber lost her life at the hands of someone she loved and was able to trust in circumstances where she ought to have been confident in her own safety.”

Craig Niven, the siblings’ foster father, told the trial in July the pair had a very difficult relationship and could not be left in each other’s company as they were “not a good mix”. Amber was placed back in care when she was 13; her brother had left home at 18.

After the high court jury found Gibson guilty, Niven and his wife, Carol, said in a statement that Amber had been “the most giving, loving, supportive and admirable person”.

The couple said: “She kept us on our toes and had the most amazing outlook on life considering the suffering she had experienced.”

Both siblings had been let down by the system. “We now have one daughter buried in Larkhall cemetery and another child in prison. Life will never be the same.”

It emerged during Gibson and Corrigan’s trial that Amber had previously been raped by another man, Jamie Starrs, in an unrelated case earlier in 2021.

Starrs was found guilty of that assault, carried out at his home in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, at the high court in Lanark earlier in July and was jailed for 10 and a half years in August.

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