Gillian Wilson dumped the lifeless corpse of Charlene Lever in an empty Clune Park Street property ahead of a massive police search to try to locate the missing 21-year-old.

She then manufactured a complex tissue of lies, saying Ms Lever had gone to a party in Coatbridge in a bid to cover her tracks.

Dozens of Ms Lever’s friends and family were present at Greenock Sheriff Court for the sentencing yesterday.

There was also a signifcant police presence in and around the court.

Wilson had previously wept in the dock as details of her crime were read out, but yesterday showed no emotion.

Defence QC Margaret Breslin said the real tragedy surrounding the case was Ms Lever’s death.

She said: “There is a lot of emotion around this case, as seen by the number of people on the public benches, but the real tragedy is that we have the death of a young girl due to drug abuse.

“Gillian Wilson had no part to play in the drug abuse or overdose, but she accepts that her actions after her friend had died must have caused the family considerable distress.” Ms Breslin added: “She is truly sorry for the grief she had caused to the family and she is very much ashamed of her actions.” She said: “She woke and found her friend had died – this was someone who was a friend from the age of 14.

“She panicked for a number of reasons and felt guilty that she hadn’t stayed awake to look after her. There had been previous occasions when the deceased had taken an overdoes and had been taken to hospital.

“She knew the deceased’s family had blamed her Charleen becoming involved in drugs in the first place.” The solicitor admitted that Wilson had also taken an amount of drugs on the night of the offence, which clouded her judgement.

“This is not by way of justification, but an explanation.” Ms Breslin disputed that she had planned what she had done but ‘acted impulsively’ and she felt she couldn’t go back.

She said her client’s upbringing had offered her few chances in life, adding: “She is a young woman from a chaotic and abusive, drug-fuelled background and she probably never had a chance.

“This is borne out by the fact that she started taking drugs at an early age.” The court heard that Wilson had spent time in the Good Shepherd’s Home in Bishopton, had been in and out of prison, and had no contact with her mother.

Ms Breslin said Wilson needed ‘rehabiltation’ and asked for a restriction of liberty and community payback order.

The court was told than more than 3,000 police hours were devoted to the search operation and subsequent enquiries before Ms Lever’s decomposing corpse was discovered by police.

Ms Lever’s body was found to contain high levels of heroin, as well as traces of alcohol, painkillers and tranquilisers.

But Sheriff Derek Hamilton rejected this based on the seriousness of the offence and Wilson’s previous record of offending – and handed out a 12-month custodial sentence.

He said he had to respond to what she was charged with, wasting police time, but acknowledged the distress that had been caused to the deceased’s family.

Sheriff Hamilton, above, said: “Charlene Lever was reported missing by her grandfather on 24 July, but her body wasn’t discovered until 31 July.

“All the lies about her death, prolonged the uncertainty of how she had died.

“This is a serious offence. You wasted police time while they investigated a suspicious death.

“You have a lengthy and extensive record and have breached community payback orders. You also have two previous convictions for perverting the course of justice.” He said 15-months was an appropriate sentence but reduced this to one year because of Wilson’s early plea.

The accused showed no emotion as she was jailed, but relatives and friends of Charlene Lever reacted angrily to the sentence. One shouted, ‘she’s smiling’ as tempers flared inside the courtroom.

Police also had to step in to deal with a minor disturbance outside the court building.