The brother of a British teenage girl – who referred to him as her “big bro” – has been found guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering his sister after luring her into a park.
Connor Gibson, 20, was convicted of the brutal killing of his Amber Gibson, 16, following a 13-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow, Scotland on Tuesday.
Gibson – who also uses the last name Niven like Amber did – now faces a life sentence after being convicted of murder and attempted rape.
The court heard that Gibson mercilessly battered and choked his little sister to death with his bare hands in a park at Cadzow Glen in Hamilton, 16km south east of Glasgow, in Lanarkshire, on November 26, 2021.
He also removed Amber’s clothes, sexually assaulted and tried to rape her and repeatedly inflicted blunt force trauma to her head and body, the court was told.
Following the verdicts, Judge Lord Mulholland told Gibson: “Your sister – the last person she saw was you strangling her. It was depraved and you will pay a heavy price for that.”
Jurors heard the siblings had been in foster care together, but had been living apart at the time Amber was killed.
She had been “excited” to catch-up with her older brother and sent a selfie to a friend captioned “my big bro” hours before he fatally attacked her following a row, the court heard.
Amber was reported missing on the evening of Friday November 26 and her body was discovered in Cadzow Glen at about 10.10am on November 28.
Connor was arrested three days later on December 1.
The day before his arrest, he posted a chilling tribute to the sister he murdered, writing on Facebook: “Amber, you will fly high for the rest of time. We will all miss you. Especially me. I love you ginger midget. GBFN (goodbye for now) X”.
The forensic pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination on Amber’s body told the court she was found covered in mud and the cause of death was “compression of the neck”.
CCTV from before the killing showed Gibson walking side-by-side with Amber along a footpath.
Footage from later on catches Gibson walking home alone before leaning over for several seconds by a fence – apparently exhausted.
He is later filmed tiptoeing out of his sheltered accommodation before disposing of items he wore during the attack.
Jurors heard other forensic evidence that “widespread blood staining” on Gibson’s jacket was compatible with Amber and his DNA was also found on her shorts, worn as underwear, which had been “forcibly torn” off.
The court heard Gibson did not seem emotional as he spoke to his and Amber’s former foster father, Craig Niven, on the day her body was found.
Giving evidence, Mr Niven had said he would not leave the siblings in each other’s company because they were “not a good mix”.
Mr Niven and his wife had fostered the siblings since Amber was three and her brother was five. The couple were granted permanent care of the siblings a few years later.
At the time of Amber’s murder, Connor was living at the Blue Triangle homeless hostel in Hamilton while Amber was at the town’s Hillhouse children’s home.
Mr Niven told the court he had not heard from his former foster son during Amber’s disappearance but, in a call on the day her body was discovered, Gibson told him the pair had “fallen out” when they saw each other two days previously.
Jurors also heard from Peter Benson, of Police Scotland’s cyber crime group, who examined a phone found where Gibson was living.
It showed that on 27 November at about 12.34am, the phone’s user wrote to a Snapchat group with five recipients: “I’m really going to need you guys help with something when yous come back. I’m being serious.”
Around 40 seconds later the user messaged Amber on the app: “Are you ok?”
The user then told the group chat at approximately 1.33am: “nvm (never mind) it’s all good.”
The search history obtained from the phone also showed the user searched “how to get nosy police officers to stop monitoring your phone” at 11.38pm.
Iain Currie, manager of Hillhouse children’s home, told the court he spoke to Gibson at about 9pm on 26 November after he called to speak with his sister, but noted him appearing “sharp” on the phone after making no greeting.
Also on trial was Stephen Corrigan, 45, who was found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by intimately touching and concealing Amber’s body after discovering her at some point in the following two days, instead of contacting the emergency services.
Corrigan, said in court not to be known to Gibson, also denied the charge and had lodged a special defence of alibi, Sky News reports.
His father, William Corrigan, 79, told the court his son was at his home in Blantyre, near Hamilton, that weekend after a fall on ice left his arm in a sling, and denied lying to protect him.
The court heard Corrigan told police he was at a “complete loss” to explain why his DNA was found on 39 areas of Amber’s body, including her breasts, buttocks and thighs.
Judge Mulholland told Corrigan he faces a “lengthy sentence”.
The judge deferred sentence until 4 September at Livingston High Court for pleas in mitigation and background reports.
Following the verdict, foster parents Craig and Carol Niven said in a statement: “When they arrived at our home, Amber was three and Connor aged five.
“Connor stated ‘we are safe’. They were until he took the safety away. Amber deserved to live a life of hope and opportunities. As a family, we will never be able to get over how this was taken from her.
“We are relieved the people involved in what happened to her are now behind bars. However, no amount of time will be justice enough for such a young innocent life.”
They described Amber as the “most giving, caring, loving, supportive and admirable person” who had a love of art and singing.
The couple added: “She had the most amazing outlook on life considering the suffering she had experienced”.
They also commented how they had listened to evidence “how much Amber and Connor have been let down throughout their lives by the system”.
The statement added: “As a family, we all feel this could have been prevented. We now have one daughter buried in Larkhall Cemetery and another child in prison. We really miss Amber – life will never be the same.”