Woman faked terminal breast cancer to avoid going to court for £18k fraud

A woman who faked having terminal cancer to escape court action has been jailed.

Mortgage broker Jean Adshead, of Moreton Road, Solihull, was jailed for 28 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court for falsely claimed she couldn't stand trial for conning a man out of more than £18,000 because she had breast cancer.

The 57-year-old handed forged health reports to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) between November 2017 and February 2019, which stated she had the disease and could not attend court.

But her web of lies was finally uncovered when court officials tried to contact one of the doctors believed to have written one of the reports, only to discover he had retired in 2016.

She faced trial for keeping money meant to buy a pub in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, StokeonTrentLive reports.

Roger Brown, prosecuting, said Adshead was diagnosed and treated for skin cancer between October 2016 and February 2017.

He said: "The victim was a purchaser of the public house Castle Mona, in Newcastle.

"The victim contacted Adshead at the end of April 2013 because he was also interested in purchasing another public house called The Alma and was talking to her about that.

"As a result of that, there became a number of charges made by the defendant causing the victim to pay out a substantial amount of money.

"There came a point where things stopped for a moment. She claimed to be ill. In fact, she had been sent to prison for almost exactly the same type of offence.

"She came out of prison and she started sending the victim further messages requiring more money. But by this time, he had started looking into what was happening.

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"He realised he had been swindled and stopped paying her money. The total amount was over £18,000 in cash and bank transfers. He realised she was swindling him because somebody else had bought The Alma, but she was still requesting money.

"She was arrested and she denied that she had been swindling him. She appeared before the court and pleaded not guilty and the matter was set down for trial."

Mr Brown said the court then began receiving documents stating that Adshead was suffering from cancer and unable to attend court.

He added: "What eventually happened was that there had been so much concern that the defendant was seriously ill, and had been for a long time so that the Crown Prosecution Service decided to consider whether or not it was in the public interest for this prosecution to continue.

"This information was given to the victim of the fraud and he suffered considerable distress by that decision. As a consequence of that, they decided to contact the doctor who had written the report given by Adshead and it turned out that he had retired from the NHS in March 2016.

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"The defendant was arrested for perverting the course of justice in November 2019. She stated she was terrified of going back to jail."

Adshead, whose previous convictions include obtaining bank transfer by deception, pleaded guilty to fraud and perverting the course of justice.

Elizabeth Power, representing Adshead, said she desperate to avoid prison, having had a "harrowing" ordeal while previously serving four months for the same type of crime.

"She had a deeply harrowing period in custody and was petrified of returning and did all that she could in forging documents to try and prevent her return to prison," she said.

"She did have a tumour removed and that has caused ongoing problems and she tells me while she was in custody she had ongoing difficulties with that because she wasn't receiving appropriate medication.

"There is concern whether she will be more susceptible to the Covid-19 virus because of her depressed immune system."

Sentencing Adshead, Judge David Fletcher said: "The decision made by the CPS to check again what was an extremely convincing forgery of a letter from a consultant oncologist, is the only reason why this matter unravelled.

"I was convinced myself about the circumstances you were putting forward and illnesses you were saying you had.

"You had numerous conversations with members of staff at this court, numerous emails were exchanged explaining about your breast cancer.

"Explaining that your life expectancy was severely reduced to such an extent that having been made aware of the documentation we were giving clear indication to the Crown that they should review the decision to prosecute.

"I hope at the age of 57 this puts all criminal behaviour behind you."

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