A search of Belfast Lough has been abandoned after a woman admitted she had lied about her baby falling overboard.

The 37-year-old mother of six was arrested by police after a 24 hour search when she fell overboard from a car ferry en route from Scotland.

Rescue crews and volunteers searched the Lough after claims the woman was holding a baby when she fell off the deck of the ship.

The woman was rescued from the freezing waters after just 15 minutes but efforts to locate the baby proved fruitless – until she admitted there was no baby.

Now the woman faces a jail sentence for wasting police time after the major land and sea operation was abandoned.

The mother of six was treated for hypothermia at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital after her fall from the Stena Line vessel on its way into Belfast.

At one stage the harbour was closed to all traffic as police co-ordinated a massive search and rescue mission.

Helicopters from North and South of the border, the Irish Coast Guard, and the RNLI were all involved in the search operation.

Police questioned the woman in the hospital on Thursday and then charged her with wasting their time.

HM Coastguard search for a baby believed to have fallen from a ferryGoogle Images