Tragic Amber Gibson’s life of misery: How girl, 16, who was sexually assaulted and murdered by her own brother was raped by another man weeks before – and spent years in care after escaping home where her father viciously attacked her mother
- Amber and Connor Gibson were removed from an abusive home at ages 3 and 5
- By the time she was killed, Amber had spent most of her life in the care system
When Amber Gibson and her older brother Connor were removed from their abusive family household at the ages of three and five, the little boy had declared they were finally safe.
No more would they witness their father beating their mother black and blue, dragging her by the hair, putting his hands around her throat. But Amber’s safety was tragically short-lived – and her own brother proved to be the biggest threat to it.
Last month, as a jury found him Gibson guilty of murdering and sexually assaulting her, it emerged his natural father was jailed for 10 years only months ago for a litany of violent sexual crimes.
Now the child who witnessed his merciless attacks is behind bars too, awaiting a life sentence next month. By the time she was murdered, his blameless sister had spent almost all her life in the care system, with her foster parents hailing Amber as the ‘most giving, caring, loving supportive and admirable person’.
And today the man who raped her five months before her big brother lured his sister to a secluded woodland to kill her, was jailed for more than a decade – as a judge branded his actions ‘appalling’.
When Amber Gibson (pictured) and her older brother Connor were removed from their abusive family household at the ages of three and five, the little boy had declared they were finally safe
Foster parents Craig (back right) and Carol Niven (front left) said Amber (front right) was the ‘most giving, caring, loving supportive and admirable person’ who had ‘the most amazing outlook on life’. Amber was murdered by her brother Connor Gibson (back left)
Mr Niven told his foster son’s trial, he would not leave the children in each other’s company as they were ‘not a good mix’. Connor Gibson (pictured) yesterday was found guilty of murdering and sexually assaulting Amber
Amber’s death was twisted and brutal. Her ‘depraved’ brother Connor had torn her clothes with the intent to rape her before going on to strangle the vulnerable teen and leaving her body in the woods.
And, in a revolting postscript to her bleak demise, even the first person to find her dead harboured twisted motives. Happening on her by chance, Stephen Corrigan touched her inappropriately before hiding her naked body.
READ MORE: Man who found Amber Gibson’s naked body in woodland violated her instead of telling police: Pervert, 45, is told he faces ‘lengthy’ jail term for his ‘horrific crimes’ against the tragic 16-year-old
It was the closing chapter to a heartbreaking tragic life. Amber’s story began on New Year’s Day 2005 at Wishaw General Hospital in Lanarkshire where her brother and eventual killer had been born two years earlier.
Her parents, Peter Gibson and his much younger partner Ann Marie, are believed to have met online and, by the time Amber arrived, a pattern of abuse was well-established. At their home in North Berwick Crescent, East Kilbride, Gibson inflicted appalling violence on the mother of his children – punching her in the face and kicking her in the body – between August 2001 and August 2007.
The children were taken out of their parental home and put into care and in 2008 the Nivens were approached to look after the pair in another Lanarkshire town. Amber and her brother moved into their Larkhall home but concerns about the older sibling’s behaviour soon arose.
As Mr Niven told his foster son’s trial, he would not leave the children in each other’s company as they were ‘not a good mix’.
For a time they attended separate schools. Amber went to Moore House Academy, around 25 miles away in West Lothian’s Bathgate, while her brother was a pupil at Kear Campus in Blantyre, Lanarkshire – a secondary school for those with social, emotional and behavioural needs.
Former school friends described him as a loner who was prone to sudden fits of rage.
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 and Amber are pictured together in CCTV the night she was killed. The pair were seen walking on a street in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire at 9.55pm
Happening on her remains by chance about two days later, Stephen Corrigan (pictured) touched her inappropriately before hiding her body
Chilling moment Connor Gibson leads his 16-year-old sister Amber to a woodland where he sexually assaults and strangles her: READ MORE
‘He would talk about killing other pupils which, to be fair, I saw as an over-exaggeration, but looking back on it now maybe the stuff he said wasn’t exaggeration at all,’ one classmate said.
A former female pupil described him as a ‘disgusting human’ who ‘threatened to rip’ her baby from her while she was pregnant.
Ultimately, the foster care arrangement broke down and Amber moved into Hamilton-based Hillhouse children’s unit when she was 14. Her brother remained with the Nivens until his 18th birthday in 2020.
It was while in the care of the state that Amber was raped by 20-year-old Jamie Starrs, who attacked her in June 2021 after being released on bail for another sex attack.
Starrs had violated the teenager while she was asleep or unconscious at a property in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire.
But he was caught out after following a statement by Amber to police weeks before she was then murdered by her brother.
Starrs denied any wrongdoing and went on trial at the High Court in Lanark. However, Jurors took two hours to convict him of raping Amber and also raping a second teenager just two weeks earlier.
Starrs was jailed for 10-and-a-half years and two years of supervision upon release. Sentencing the double rapist, Judge Thomas Welsh said: ‘You have been convicted of appalling crimes against two innocent teenage girls and you have been assessed as being of very high risk of sexual violence on release.’
Amber was raped by 20-year-old Jamie Starrs, (pictured) who attacked her in June 2021 after being released on bail for another sex attack
Detective Constable Ross McCaig previously told the jury he had taken a statement from Amber after the sickening assault had been reported.
Her statement said: ‘I was under the covers but when I went to get up I felt I didn’t have clothes on my bottom half, my trousers were next to me on top of the covers.
READ MORE: Man who raped a teenager five months before she was sexually assaulted and murdered by her brother is jailed for ten-and-a-half years
‘I saw that the guy Jamie was asleep in the bed with me, it was light enough to say that it was him. He then got up from under the covers and he was completely naked and he put on a red tracksuit and pulled out a blue windbreaker style jacket and I managed to put my trousers on underneath the covers. I told Jamie I was leaving.’
Later in a homeless unit in Blantyre, Amber became ‘quiet’ when discussion turned to a TikTok user being falsely accused of rape and she revealed it had ‘happened to her’. A teenage boy told staff and police were called in before Amber told them she had been raped by Starrs.
She told officers: ‘The reason I think I was raped was that I woke up in a bed with no clothes on my bottom half with a boy I had only met naked under the covers. I can’t remember hugging him or kissing him at all.’
Tragically, she would never see never see her rapist brought to justice as weeks after giving her crucial statement to police, she was dead.
At the time of her murder, her brother was a resident at Hamilton’s Blue Triangle project, a hostel for homeless youngsters in Lanarkshire, while she was living at the Hillhouse unit.
Angel McKean, 19, a friend of Amber’s there, said the siblings’ relationship was turbulent.
But she said when she last spoke to Amber, hours before she was killed, she had been looking forward to seeing her brother.
CCTV shows Connor Gibson and his sister Amber Gibson walking on a bridge in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire at 9.57pm
CCTV from after the murder shows Gibson walking down a darkened pavement before stooping over for several seconds by a fence
CCTV shows Connor Gibson walking alone on a bridge in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire at 11.42pm
CCTV shows Connor Gibson walking alone on a street in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire at 11.44pm
Care home manager Ian Currie, 55, said Connor Gibson called the Hillhouse unit to speak to his sister on the day she was killed.
A short time later, Amber left with him, despite Mr Currie’s attempts to discourage her from doing so. She was never seen alive again.
Four days later, Gibson wrote a chilling tribute to his sister on social media: ‘Amber. You will fly high for the rest of time. We all miss you. Especially me. I love you ginger midget, GBNF [gone but not forgotten] xx.’ Hours before he was arrested for her murder, he shared another post in which he urged townsfolk to ‘leave a light on’ for Amber.
It was while Connor Gibson was awaiting trial for murder that his natural father, aged 62, was jailed for physical and sexual abuse.
The High Court in Glasgow heard how he had raped a woman in East Kilbride, after tying her up and blindfolding her. He also grabbed this victim by the neck restricting her breathing.
Peter Gibson was also convicted of indecently assaulted a young boy and punching and kicking him. Other convictions included lewd and libidinous behaviour towards another boy.
Mr and Mrs Niven were in court last month to hear the guilty verdict on their former foster son. In a statement, they said: ‘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 moved into Hamilton-based Hillhouse children’s unit when she was 14. Her brother remained with the Nivens until his 18th birthday in 2020. Craig Niven is pictured at the High Court in Glasgow during Connor Gibson’s trial
Care home manager Ian Currie, 55, (pictured) said Connor Gibson called the Hillhouse unit to speak to his sister on the day she was killed. A short time later, Amber left with him, despite Mr Currie’s attempts to discourage her from doing so. She was never seen alive again
They added: ‘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.’
Lord Mulolland remanded both Gibson and Corrigan in custody after the jury returned its verdict.
Turning to Connor first, he said: ‘Your sister – the last person she saw was you strangling her. It was depraved. You will pay a heavy price for that.’
The judge then told Corrigan: ‘You have been convicted of two horrific crimes. You came across a young girl who had been strangled to death and was naked.
‘Instead of alerting the authorities you decide to handle her body all over from head to toe including areas that were intimate – private parts – and your DNA told the story. Be under no illusion what is also coming your way.’
The judge said Corrigan faces a ‘lengthy sentence’. He deferred sentence until September 4 at the High Court in Livingston for pleas in mitigation and background reports.
Lord Mulholland told Connor that he faces a mandatory life sentence with the punishment part to be decided after considering the plea in mitigation on his behalf and a criminal justice social work report.
Neither showed any emotion as they were taken handcuffed to the cells.
Speaking last month, the head of major crimes at Police Scotland said time should be spent remembering Amber Gibson rather than the two men who have been convicted.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Livingstone said: ‘I’d like to actually give them as little thought as possible, to be honest with you.
The head of major crimes at Police Scotland said time should be spent remembering Amber Gibson (pictured) rather than the two men who have been convicted
‘There’s not any other words that spring to mind that I would describe them [as] other than depraved.
‘I actually think that time should be spent more remembering Amber.’ The senior officer said he hoped the convictions ‘bring some degree of comfort’ to the people who knew and cared for Amber.
He added: ‘The actions of both Corrigan and Gibson leave them both beneath contempt.
‘This was a challenging and complex investigation involving a range of specialist officers from within Police Scotland working closely with our partners in forensic services, all of whom I would pay tribute to for their professionalism and dedication whilst carrying out their work.’
The detective said that, while lessons may remain to be learned from the case, Amber’s tragic end was impossible to predict.
He added: ‘So many things can be put in place through the care system and stuff, but not every sort of thing can be thought of and certainly nobody in their wildest imagination could have anticipated at some point this happening.
‘Given their background and the difficult start to life that they had, she would have been there for him and you would have thought, or imagined, he’d have been there for her.’
Her brother was the one constant in Amber’s short life. He should have been her natural protector. He proved the very opposite.
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