A WOMAN allegedly created a fake online persona in a bid to extort money from a mum and daughter before they died in an incident at a hotel.
Linsey Cotton is said to have made up a dating profile in the name of Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone.
She then allegedly threatened Michael McDonough, as well as Margaret and Nicola McDonough, that if they didn’t give her money the two women would go to prison for 20 years.
Margaret, 52, and Nicola, 23, were both found badly injured at a Premier Inn hotel in Greenock in May 2013, and later died in hospital.
Cotton, from Livingston, appeared in the dock yesterday at Paisley Sheriff Court, where she pleaded not guilty to all of the charges she faces, which span between May 1, 2012 and May 22, 2013.
The 32-year-old is alleged to have “formed a fraudulent scheme” at addresses in Paisley, Addiewell and the Royal Air Force Lossiemouth and induced Mr McDonough to give her £6685 and items including mobile phones and an engagement ring.
It is claimed she created a false online dating profile in the name of Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone and repeatedly contacted Mr McDonough while pretending to be her.
Cotton is said to have pretended that a Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone had been injured and was seriously ill and needed money for her care and support.
Papers from the court claim she repeatedly contacted Mr McDonough, his family and friends, while pretending to be a number of made-up people that she claimed were associated with Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone.
It’s alleged that on a number of occasions she pretended to Mr McDonough and his family and friends that “financial assistance” was needed to pay for care for Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone’s relatives.
And she is accused of introducing herself to them as an acquaintance of the made-up person.
She faces a second charge of putting Margaret, Nicola, Michael and Kevin McDonough in a state of “fear and alarm of apprehension” of Margaret and Nicola McDonugh being sent to prison and Nicola being assaulted in prison.
It is alleged that to extort money, Cotton threatened the four McDonoughs that a confidentiality clause relating to the treatment of Stephanie Wilson or Johnstone had been breached.
And, unless they paid amounts of £500 and £5000, that Margaret and Nicola McDonough would go to jail for 20 years. It is alleged that this took place between May 1 and 16, 2013. The final charge Cotton faces is attempting to defeat the ends of justice between May 9 and 22, 2013 at addresses in Paisley, Addiewell and elsewhere. It is alleged that being aware of the crimes she had committed, she deleted information on a mobile phone and other devices and destroyed paperwork.
She is accused of making Mr McDonough help her in deleting and destroying information and that she tried to have him provide a false account to witnesses and authorities to avoid detection and prosecution.
The defence made a motion to adjourn the case until a trial later in the year for further inquiries to be made.
Sheriff James Spy adjourned the trial until July and Cotton’s bail was continued.