A WOMAN has been jailed for three years after trying to con money from a mother and daughter who were later found dead in an apparent double-suicide in a hotel.
Linsey Cotton, 33, concocted a complex internet scam to deceive Michael McDonough, 33. Later his mother, Margaret, and sister, Nicola, became involved.
The women were found with slash wounds at the Premier Inn in Greenock in 2013, after Cotton, from Addiewell, had demanded £5500 to keep them out of prison.
Jailing Cotton at Paisley Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff Robert Fife described Cotton’s behaviour as “deplorable, callous, despicable and shameful”.
He said her actions were an “extraordinary, complex and intricate web of deceit and lies” which had “adversely affected the emotional wellbeing” of Michael, Margaret and Nicola”.
The sheriff added: “I think the best word to sum up what you have done is cruel.”
The court heard the deception began when Cotton had set up an online dating profile under the name of Stephanie Wilson.
She used the alter ego to make contact with Margaret McDonough’s son, Michael, before beginning an online relationship with him in 2012.
Cotton then claimed to know the fictitious “Stephanie” in order to get close to Michael’s family. Michael was told he might be able to see Stephanie if they got engaged.
He gave Cotton £5000 to give to Stephanie and gifts including an engagement ring.
At the beginning of May 2013, Cotton told Nicola and Margaret McDonough they had breached a confidentiality clause in relation to medical treatment for Stephanie, allegedly saying they would go to prison for 20 years if they did not give her £5500.
Cotton told them she needed £5000 for a lawyer to make the case “disappear” and £500 to get Nicola a fake passport so she could go abroad undetected.
Both women were found with serious injuries at the Premier Inn in Greenock on May 10, 2013.
Margaret died later that day, and her daughter died three days later.
In her defence, Cotton claimed to have committed the crimes because she wanted to have a relationship with Michael.
She said she felt “remorse and shame” for the upset and anguish she caused the McDonough family.
Detective Inspector David Wagstaff, the officer in charge of the inquiry, said: “The McDonough family have remained dignified throughout this terrible ordeal and my thoughts remain with them.
“The McDonough family are a loving, caring family. As a result of their care and compassion Linsey Cotton was able to manipulate them.”