The distress of the 16-year-old’s loved ones was made all the more acute by the fact they were listening, not only to the sentencing of their daughter’s killer, but that the murderer is their other foster child, Amber’s older brother.
The pain of Craig and Carol Niven, who raised Connor and Amber from the ages of five and three, is impossible to comprehend.
Connor Gibson should have been his little sister’s champion and protector: instead he murdered her.
At the High Court in Livingston, Gibson was sentenced to life and ordered to spend a minimum of 22 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.
As the now 21-year-old looked on without emotion, judge Lord Mulholland detailed how Amber, who lived in Crosshouse children’s unit under the care of South Lanarkshire Council, had been excited to see her big brother on the night he killed her.
She took a selfie shortly before 10pm on November 26, 2023, and posed it to Snapchat with the words: “my big bro”.
But, in a brutal attack, Connor went on that night to remove her clothes, sexually assault her with the intention of raping her, inflict blunt force trauma to her head and body, and finally strangle her.
In court, Lord Mulholland called Gibson’s actions “truly evil”.
He said: “She was looking forward to seeing you the night she was murdered, she even posted a selfie of both of you on her Snapchat.
“The last person she saw alive was you, her brother, having strangled the life out of her after beating her up and trying to rape her.
“What you did was truly evil.
“Science told the world what you had done to Amber.”
At the same sentencing hearing, Lord Mulholland also dealt with Stephen Corrigan – a stranger to both Amber and Connor Gibson – who happened to discover Amber’s body in Hamilton’s Cadzow Glen on 28 November, 2021, two days after she was last seen.
Rather than contact police on finding the teenager – whose disappearance had been the subject of a high-profile missing persons campaign – he interfered with her body, intimately touching her, and then concealed her remains.
Corrigan, whose lawyer told the court he maintains his innocence, despite a jury finding him guilty of the crime, was jailed for nine years.
On the night Amber went missing from the children’s unit where she had lived for two years, Gibson called staff to pretend she was still alive.
In a further devious act he posted on Facebook paying tribute to his sister, writing: “Amber, you will fly high for the rest of time.
“We will all miss you. Especially me. I love you ginger midget. GBFN (goodbye for now) X.”
Meanwhile, Gibson had returned to the Blue Triangle homelessness accommodation he lived in and was caught on CCTV walking towards wheelie bins outside the building carrying a plastic bin.
Images showed the bin was empty when he returned and his blood-stained shorts and t-shirt were later found by police in the wheelie bins.
READ MORE: Council probe into Amber Gibson’s murder is being held
Further forensic evidence, detailed during a 13-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow, found that blood stains on Gibson’s jacket was compatible with Amber and his DNA was found on her shorts.
In mitigation in court Tony Graham KC, representing Gibson, said his client had endured emotional abuse and neglect.
Mr Graham said: “I make reference to these matters to reconcile how a brother can act in such a way.”
During Gibson’s trial the media were prevented from reporting on the outcome of another case – the sentencing of Amber and Connor Gibson’s biological father.
Peter Gibson was found to have sexually assaulted two young boys and assaulted and raped a woman between 2001 and 2008, and he was jailed in April this year.
It is a horrifying litany of crimes: Amber’s father is a child sex offender and rapist, her brother sexually assaulted and murdered her, and her body was interfered with after death by a male passer-by.
In addition, a few months before her death, Amber was raped while she slept by a 20-year-old man named Jamie Starrs who is now serving a 10 year and six month prison sentence for attacking her.
In mitigation for Corrigan, the 45-year-old’s lawyer, Rhonda Anderson, told Lord Mulholland he “continues to maintain his innocence”.
She added: “But he accepts he must face the consequences of the jury’s decision.”
Ms Anderson explained how Corrigan had suffered trauma in his early childhood but had no major offending history and was at a low risk of offending.
In sentencing Corrigan, Lord Mulholland said any other person would have “called the emergency services” upon discovering a dead body, but that Corrigan went on to touch the teenager inappropriately.
Scotland’s procurator fiscal for homicide, Moira Orr, called the circumstances of Amber Gibson’s death are “both distressing and impossible to comprehend”.
READ MORE: Was Amber Gibson let down by the system?
She said: “This 16-year-old girl, with her whole life ahead of her, should have been protected by her older brother, Connor Gibson. “Yet he assaulted and murdered her. “And after murdering her, he abandoned her body in a public park, where a stranger – Stephen Corrigan – violated her further.”
Ms Orr added: “As prosecutors, we have worked hard to deliver justice for Amber. “The COPFS team used every tool at our disposal to ensure these two men face the consequences of their despicable actions.
“But now our thoughts are of Amber Gibson and we offer condolences to everyone who loved her.”
Questions have been asked as to how a young woman could have experienced multiple traumas while in the care of the local authority.
Prof Soumen Sengupta, director of health and social care at South Lanarkshire Council, said it was “a desperately sad and distressing case”.
“All aspects of Amber’s care are the subject of an independent review and we are committed to the publication of appropriate outcomes of that review once we are able to release them,” he added.
READ MORE: Chilling footage shows Amber and Connor Gibson on the night of murder
When Gibson was convicted, the former foster family of both siblings said in a statement that Amber was “the most giving, loving, supportive and admirable person”, and their life will “never be the same again”.
The family said: “She kept us on our toes and had the most amazing outlook on life considering the suffering she had experienced.”
The statement continued: “When they arrived at our home – Amber aged three and Connor aged five – Connor stated, ‘We are safe now’.
“They were until he took her safety away.”