A GREENOCK woman appeared to be buying crack cocaine from a drug dealer through the letterbox of a flat in the town at 5.30 in the morning when police spotted her.

Melissa McLaughlin was kneeling down outside the front door of the first floor property at 4 Ann Street and talking to a man inside, the sheriff court was told.

McLaughlin, 30, had a small white wrap in her mouth when the two officers who had been called to the address by a concerned member of the public challenged her.

Prosecutor Pamela Brady told the court that McLaughlin had to be taken to Inverclyde Royal Hospital as a result of swallowing the class A drug.

Fiscal depute Mrs Brady said: "Police on uniformed patrol had cause to attend at the common close at 5.30am.

"Officers saw the accused on the first floor outside a flat and she appeared to be having a conversation through the letterbox with an unknown male regarding the purchase of drugs.

"She was detained for a search.

"Police saw a small white wrap in her mouth and asked her to remove it.

"The accused stated that she couldn't get it out of her mouth and she swallowed it.

"She was asked what it was and she replied that it was a '£20 wrap of crack'."

Mrs Brady added: "The accused was taken to Inverclyde Royal Hospital where she was kept in for observation and later released back into police custody.

"She was cautioned and charged and made no reply."

McLaughlin, of Sir Michael Street, had a guilty plea to a charge of 'obstructing police by swallowing an item believed to be a controlled drug' tendered in her absence from court by lawyer Aidan Gallagher.

She committed the offence last June.

Sheriff Michael Higgins deferred sentence for a background report and electronic tagging assessment.

McLaughlin's case is due to return to court on March 25.