'Callous and cynical' woman jailed for surrogacy fraud
A woman who conned a childless couple into believing she was carrying their baby has been jailed for two years.
Samantha Brown, 25, of Tain, was paid £8,307 by Benita and Mark Cutter but did not fall pregnant and later claimed she had lost the child in a car crash.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard she sent the couple, from Hull, a picture of her "dead baby".
Sheriff Margaret Neilson described Brown's actions as "callous, calculated and cynical".
Brown will serve her sentence at the conclusion of a three-year sentence imposed by the same sheriff in October last year after she admitted shooting a neighbour in the face with an air rifle in a row over shooting seagulls.
She will also be on supervised release for a further year.
Sheriff Neilson said: "What makes this fraud particularly despicable is the callous, calculated and cynical manner in which it was carried out over a 10-month period."
Defence agent Alison Foggo told the court that her client accepted that it was a "callous crime and repugnant".
Last month, Brown admitted the surrogacy fraud, inducing the Cutters to pay her a total of £8,307 in expenses over a 10-month period between 25 June 2013 and 20 April 2014.
Police Scotland has welcomed the sentence.
Det Insp Scott Macdonald said Brown had carried out an "inconceivable deception" against a couple who felt they could trust her.
The officer said: "Her selfish and calculated actions put the couple through an emotional rollercoaster. They are to be praised for having the courage to contact police, allowing a thorough investigation to take place and Brown to be brought to justice for her appalling actions.
"Cases like these are fortunately rare but are nonetheless extremely distressing for the families involved and unsettling for the wider community, so we hope today's sentence brings a degree of comfort and closure."