Mother sentenced for 'cancer' scam
A young mother who defrauded friends and kind-hearted strangers out of thousands of pounds by claiming she had terminal cancer will be sentenced today.
Danielle Watson, 24, said she had late-stage cervical cancer from January 2012 to claim donations, freebies and cut-price deals for her upcoming wedding worth almost £10,000.
The then 21-year-old admin assistant even brought forward her wedding by several months to April that year so she could walk up the aisle before radiotherapy and chemo made her hair fall out.
But in fact she had minor surgery for a treatable gynaecological condition and had never been diagnosed with, or treated for, cancer.
She aroused suspicions by failing to provide proof of her illness and demanding all donations be paid to her account.
She then revealed in June 2012 that she was pregnant.
Watson had denied six counts of fraud but dramatically changed her plea on the first day of her trial at Basildon Crown Court, sitting in Southend, Essex, in October.
Prosecutor Marcus Croskell said Watson was "involved in many aspects of fundraising from their conception".
He added: "At no stage was she told by a medical professional that she had any form of cancer, let alone stage four cervical cancer, and she has never had treatment for it.
"Any such assertions are dishonest and false."
Her scam included a £1,640 Twitter auction, raffles, cake sales and fundraising nights at which she appeared raised almost £10,000 towards the vitamin C treatment, which costs £6,000 per cycle, the jury of seven women and five men heard.
Rebecca Blain, for Watson, told the court that with an 18-month-old child and her second due in mid-November, her client had been worried about getting an immediate prison sentence.
Mrs Blain said: "One of those she told was her then to-be husband.
"Her own family all fell under the umbrella of that lie.
"She has told friends and family and she will have to learn to live and come to terms with the fact that she has told them what are the most despicable lies."
Recorder Gerard Pounder said Watson had "preyed on human kindness" and he could not guarantee she would avoid a custodial sentence.
She will be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court this afternoon.