AN OFFICE worker who sparked a major police probe when she and a pal pretended that they had been abducted and held against their will after hours in a city bar was spared jail.

Alice Nicol's lies tied up the whole of Central Scotland's CID for an entire shift.

Two men were arrested and held for several hours in police cells, the bar was forensically searched, and hours of police time was wasted - all because she falsely claimed that they had been walking past the pub, Claymores in Stirling, on their way back from a nearby nightclub when Nicol's friend Cathryn Spencer "got dragged in by some guy".

Stirling Sheriff Court heard that, in truth, Alice, then 19, Cathryn, then 18, were given refuge in the pub on a cold winter's night because barman Declan Dufficy, 27, son of the then licensee of Claymores, thought they were too drunk to be out on the streets and there was a shortage of taxis.

The two girls were seen on CCTV "laughing and joking" outside the closed pub with Mr Dufficy and his friend, Alistair McEwan, a 29-year-old chef.

Prosecutor Laura Knox said the girls had gone into the pub willingly with Mr Dufficy and Mr McEwan in the early hours of December 27 last year.

But around 6am, Spencer phoned police and claimed they had been deliberately locked in the ladies loo.

Officers rushed to the scene and led Nicol and Spencer out of the building and arrested their two "abductors".

However, CCTV showed Nicol leaving the pub freely only six minutes before Spencer called police, chatting to the driver of a car in the street, and going back into the bar again.

Sheriff William Gilchrist, who presided over a brief trial in the case of Nicol, now 20, of Doune, Perthshire, and heard a guilty plea from Spencer, now 19, of Glenochil, Clackmannanshire, said both girls had given "very precise, incredibly detailed blow-by-blow" false accounts of their fictitious ordeal.

Both girls were accused of wasting police time.

Sheriff Gilchrist found Nicol, who had denied the offence, guilty, and deferred sentence until Wednesday, December 21 for reports.

Ordering Nicol to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work under a Community Payback Order, he said: "I think I said at the trial that one of the concerning aspects of this was the waste of police resources - the number of officers who had to attend and had to be involved in the investigation.

"The only appropriate disposal in these circumstances would be unpaid work, to put something back into the community."

The probe involved four uniformed officers, six detective constables, one detective sergeant, scenes-of-crime officers and two officers from the custody unit.

The pub itself was subjected to a detailed scenes-of-crime investigation.

Mr Dufficy, of Clackmannanshire, and Mr McEwan, from Fife, were each interviewed by a pair of detectives for up to 45 minutes apiece.

Nicol said she'd had up to 15 rums, and her allegations were the result of being "a wee bit drunk and having difficulty processing everything that was happening".

Sentence on Spencer, a care worker, was further deferred because background reports on her were not ready.