Mother admits conning friends by faking cancer

Wedding planner Leigh Stewart, with her husband Adam, who gave free help worth £1,100 through her Fantasy Dream Events business and helped raise thousands in donations for Danielle Watson.

A mother has admitted defrauding friends and kind-hearted strangers out of thousands of pounds by claiming that she had terminal cancer.

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 (€12,600).

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.

In fact, she had 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.

She had denied six counts of fraud but dramatically changed her pleas on the first day of her trial at Basildon Crown Court, sitting in Southend, Essex.

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.

Blain said: “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”.

Wedding planner Leigh Stewart gave Watson free help worth £1,100 through her Fantasy Dream Events and then helped raise thousands more in donations.

The court earlier heard that friends and strangers gave Watson money and held fundraising events to provide cash for additional “vitamin C treatment” after being told she had a 15%-20% chance of survival.

Others gave free or cut-price deals including a wedding dress worth £699 after hearing of her plight.

Watson was released on bail, to be sentenced on January 9.


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