Woman who claimed to have terminal illness in charity scam avoids jail
A woman who claimed she had terminal cancer so she could con a small charity into paying for a wedding ceremony has avoided a prison sentence.
Carla Evans (29) pretended to have bladder cancer, thyroid cancer and liver and kidney failure to defraud the charity Wish Upon a Wedding which gives people with terminal illnesses a chance to have a memorable family event.
Newport Crown Court heard the mother-of-two posted on social media claiming she was dying and asking for help.
She was contacted by Karen Hobbs, a volunteer from the charity, who, after being taken in by Evans' lies, offered to organise a vow renewal ceremony worth £15,000. The charity asked for just £500 towards the cost and proof of her diagnosis.
The court heard that Evans' story began to unravel when she forged a letter from an NHS consultant at the Royal Gwent Hospital saying she was terminally ill with liver and bladder cancer.
Mrs Hobbs became suspicious and launched her own investigation before contacting the police.
When officers arrived at her home, Evans continued to lie, saying she had a liver condition and required dialysis.
When interviewed by police, she first denied forging the letter from the consultant but later admitted she had done.
Emma Harris, prosecuting, said the cost of Evans's ceremony would have been £15,000 but there was no actual monetary loss to the charity because of the deception.
She read a statement from Mrs Hobbs in which she said she can no longer trust people and had given up her charity work.
"Carla had all my attention and trust, and I became very close to Carla and treated her as a friend," she said.
"She told me what she had gone through and I confided in her. I know how my children felt when they thought I was dying. I was hoping to make memories for her family. I will never trust anyone again."
Evans, of Trecenydd, Caerphilly, South Wales, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to fraud by false representation.
Ashanti-Jade Walton, defending, said: "There is no disputing that the facts of this case are awful. Miss Evans is not only remorseful but deeply ashamed, ashamed for hurting Karen Hobbs, who is a kind-hearted woman.
"She has lost her good character and let down her family."
Judge Jeremy Jenkins said only her two young children had saved Evans from an immediate custodial sentence.
He imposed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 15 months, and ordered her to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation.
The judge told her: "The facts of this case are rather unusual, albeit shocking.
"It was a cruel and calculating fraud upon Karen Hobbs and the charity Wish Upon a Wedding.
"You are a particularly devious type of person who should be utterly ashamed of yourself. Your behaviour beggars belief."
Evans was also told to pay £340 prosecution costs and A £140 surcharge.