A GREENOCK nurse at a mental health unit who embarked on a sexual relationship with a patient was spared prison today.

Jill McLaren, 37, had secret trysts with the man she knew from the secure clinic in Glasgow where she worked.

This included her taking him to her home under the guise of an escorted Christmas shopping trip.

The crime spanned between July 2018 and September 2019.

Prosecutors accepted not guilty pleas to similar allegations that she was involved with two other patients at the unit.

McLaren has been ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and will be under social work supervision for 18 months.

She was also place on an electronic tagging curfew to stay indoors between 9pm and 6am between Sundays and Fridays for five months.

Sheriff Gerard Considine said: "There is no doubt this was a gross breach of trust.

"The law protects people suffering from mental disorders - such conduct was wrong.

"You used a false name to contact him which is an aggravating feature, as was the location and the time involved.

"I accept that you have shown remorse and understand such relationships with someone with a mental disorder are unlawful.

"The deterioration in his mental health was significant at the end of the relationship."

McLaren has also been put on the sex offenders register for 18 months.

The court earlier heard how the nurse and the man started frequently chatting about their shared love for fitness.

She then told him she started a shift on his ward in order to 'see him' and they began to flirt with each other.

Fiscal Lauren Donnelly said: "She went to get chocolates (in the unit) and he followed her. They began kissing in the cupboard."

The pair agreed that if McLaren wished to speak to him outside of the clinic she should use a different name.

The man was woken up by the nurse one evening during a nightshift as she shone a flashlight into his face.

They again went on to kiss before she carried out a sex act in his bedroom.

The court heard McLaren also bought a birthday card for the man.

It read: "Have a great day, wish I could speak to you, half love you ha ha xx".

McLaren went on to go with him on an outing for him to apparently buy Christmas gifts.

But, they instead ended up at her house where further sexual contact occurred.

Euan Dow, defending, told Glasgow Sheriff Court that McLaren 'didn't seek to excuse or minimise' her behaviour or blame the victim.

The advocate added: "She was at a low ebb in her life and was flattered by the attention she received.

"What was flirtatious, ultimately crossed a boundary and became physical to the extent we have heard.

"By then, she felt unable to extricate herself from the position she found herself in.

"She told him it was wrong and could not continue but she felt intimidated by him and was threatened by him that if she ended he would disclose the relationship to other members of staff."