Woman who lied about cancer to get charity to fund £15k wedding avoids jail

Bonnie Christian

A woman who claimed she was dying of terminal cancer so a small charity would organise and pay for her £15,000 wedding has avoided jail.

Carla Evans, 29, pretended to have bladder cancer, thyroid cancer and liver and kidney failure to defraud the charity Wish Upon a Wedding.

The charity, which gives people with terminal illnesses a chance to have a memorable family event, unravelled her story when they asked for proof of her illness and she forged an NHS letter.

Evans admitted fraud by false representation and had a one-year sentence suspended for 15 months at Newport Crown Court.

The court heard the mother-of-two posted on social media claiming she was dying and asked for help.

She was contacted by Karen Hobbs, a volunteer from the charity, who after being taken in by her lies ended up offering to organise a vow renewal ceremony worth £15,000.

The charity asked for just £500 towards the cost and asked for proof of her diagnosis in return.

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 the police arrived at her home, Evans continued to lie and said 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. Carla was so convincing and from day one of meeting Carla I questioned a few things, but felt bad questioning those things of a dying person.

"Carla was very good at convincing us and had us all fooled. I have had my trust in human kindness stolen from me."

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 that 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 ordered her to complete 120 hours unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation on top of her suspended sentence.

Mr Jenkins 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 £140 surcharge.

Lisa Bennett, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Carla Evans callously took advantage of the sympathy afforded to a dying lady to try and con a very small charity out of money.

"Our prosecution was able to uncover the lies but the depths she was willing to stoop have caused great hurt and damage to the charity volunteers who believed her and gave up significant time and money to support someone they thought was gravely ill.

"We hope this conviction will bring some sense of justice to them."