Woman jailed for pretending to have cancer to defraud charity

Patricia Robertshaw pretended to have cancer to defraud a charity (Picture: PA) 

A woman has been jailed after pretending to have cancer to defraud a charity of more than £85,000.

Patricia Robertshaw pretended she was having radiotherapy so she could earn three months’ sick pay from Yorkshire Cancer Research in Harrogate, where she worked as an events manager.

The 42-year-old was told by a judge at York Crown Court that she had shown no shame.

The court heard that she used fake degree certificates to attain the role at the charity as well as using them to apply for jobs at other companies.

Prosecutors told the court that the documents helped her to earn a £10,250 a year pay rise, which she earned for seven months, earning a total of £86,833 whilst working at the charity between September 2015 and November 2017.

Patricia Robertshaw pretended to have cancer to defraud a charity of more than £85,000 (Picture: PA)

But Robertshaw’s web of lies unravelled when other workers at the charity scanned the QR codes she had submitted on sick note forms and found they were invalid.

Robertshaw, of Gisburn Road in Barrowford, Lancashire, was jailed for four years and five months after pleading guilty guilty to four counts of fraud and one of forgery.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told her: “Embedded in the charity as you were, you would have known the good that money would have done.”

He said Roberthsaw’s attempts to feign cancer were “as bogus as the qualifications you had used”, adding: “The charity relies upon the generosity of the public and as a result those who should have benefited from the research will have been impacted in some degree by the fraud of the defendant.”

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Robert Sandford, prosecuting, said Robertshaw started to pretend to have cancer in April 2016, saying she was having treatment at the Airedale General Hospital in Bradford and at Barrowford Surgery in Nelson, Lancashire, before eventually being found out in November 2017.

Her employers had twice offered her independent health assessments, but she refused on both occasions, and even went as far as forging sick notes.

Whilst on three-month sick leave, she applied for roles as an events and commercial lead at Manchester City Council and as the head of income generation at the Pendleside Hospice in Burnley, the court heard.

The court heard how she had a conditional offer from the former, which would have paid her a salary of £49,313, and was close to getting an offer from the latter, which had an advertised salary of £36,075.

The court heard in a previous role she had also forged certificates of students’ qualifications rather than sending off their assessments to the relevant exam board to save herself work.

Catherine Silverton, defending, said her client had a history of mental health difficulties and has a borderline personality disorder.

She said: “The defendant wishes to express through me her deepest remorse and regret for these offences. She acknowledges the harm done to all of the victims.”

Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Shane Martin, who led the case for North Yorkshire Police, described Robertshaw’s actions as “astonishingly unethical”.

He said: “This is the most abhorrent fraud case I have investigated in 25 years of being a police officer.

“It’s absolutely incomprehensible that anyone could lie about having such a serious illness.”

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