A nurse at a mental health unit who embarked on a sexual relationship with a patient avoided jail on Wednesday. 

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.

McLaren pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with the man as she appeared in the dock at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

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, of Greenock, Inverclyde, was ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and put under supervision for 18 months.

McLaren was also tagged for five months keeping her indoors between 9pm and 6am between Sundays and Fridays.

Sheriff Gerard Considine further stated that the restriction of liberty order will not apply on a Saturday, Christmas Day or New Years Eve as McLaren is a mum-of-two.

The sheriff 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 is unlawful.

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

"At the time your own mental health was fragile and have since been diagnosed.

"This was such that you should not have been working with people with complex mental needs with your own needs at the time.

"You have been publicly humiliated."

McLaren was also 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.

The man's mother became suspicious of a relationship between the pair and was worried for her son.

However, she did not report the matter as there was a possibility he would be moved to a less secure unit.

McLaren left her permanent post at the unit in August 2019 to start another role.

But, she still took several shifts at the clinic and, during one, an argument took place after McLaren suddenly ended the relationship.

However, McLaren later sent another card to the man with "I miss you" written on the front.

The message inside read: "I miss you like crazy. I'm sorry I can't be the one to make you happy. I'm sorry about anything hurtful that I have said, please don't think that I didn't love you, I'm pining after you and it hurts so much."

A staff nurse at the unit later received a phone call asking for the man and recognised McLaren's voice.

Miss Donnelly said: "She became suspicious of this and hit re-dial and recognised the number.

"She checked this against the number of the staff and it matched the one held by McLaren."

The man's mental health deteriorated after he was made aware that the staff knew about the relationship.

He later confessed to his lawyer and staff at the unit about what was going on.

McLaren ended up being arrested, but made no comment at the time.

Euan Dow, defending, told the court the sentencing that her client "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 intimated by him and was threatened by him if she ended it as he would disclose the relationship to other members of staff."