A woman has been sentenced to three years in jail for an elaborate extortion plot which led a mother and daughter to kill themselves.

Linsey Cotton concocted an elaborate plot to woo Michael McDonough, 33, which left his mother, Margaret, and sister, Nicola, fearing they would be imprisoned or killed by the government.

Cotton was sentenced to three years in prison at Paisley Sheriff Court.

The mother-of two-convinced the two women in a meeting at their house in Paisley on May 7, 2013 that they had broken the law.

She alleged they had breached a confidentiality clause relating to the medical treatment of a person whose identity she had made up. She said they would be jailed for 20 years.

Mrs McDonough and Nicola were thought to have been left petrified and tearful at the prospect of spending life in prison. The court heard Mrs McDonough was physically sick.

Three days later, Mrs McDonough, 52, and her 23-year-old student daughter were found injured with slash wounds at the Premier Inn in Greenock.

The former Liberal Democrat council candidate died soon after being found in the budget hotel.

Nicola, who was found unconscious in a corridor, lost her fight for life three days later.

Cotton, of Addiewell, West Lothian, had her sentence reduced from three years and 10 months because she had pled guilty to obtaining money by fraud.

Detective Inspector David Wagstaff, the officer in charge of the inquiry said: "This was a unique, protracted and challenging enquiry. I am relieved that the McDonough family have been spared the ordeal of a trial.

“The McDonough family are a loving caring family, as a result of their care and compassion Linsey Cotton was able to manipulate them and dupe them into believing her elaborate and evil lies over a 12-month period.

"The McDonough family have remained dignified throughout this terrible ordeal and my thoughts remain with them."

The McDonough family said: "We wish to express our thanks to Police Scotland and the COPFS for their professionalism and dedication in bringing this evil individual to justice.

"In particular, we want to thank the police liaison officer who has been a source of information, assistance and strength over the entire two and a half year period. There will be no further comment from us and we would ask that you respect our request for privacy."