Cornwall

Fake Oxford University student Nicola Boardman cheats parents out of £250k

Nicola Boardman Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Nicola Boardman spent the money on holidays, drugs, and a secret marriage

A woman who cheated her parents out of £250,000 by pretending to study at Oxford University while spending thousands on holidays and a secret marriage, has been jailed.

Nicola Boardman, a former heroin addict, also spent some of the money on drugs, Truro Crown Court heard.

Her parents said the ordeal had "devastated" their lives.

Boardman, 34, who pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, was jailed for three years and four months.

The court heard Boardman, of Trelander East, Truro, had been addicted to heroin as a teenager but took part in rehabilitation.

She went on to earn a first class degree in social sciences at Camborne College in Cornwall but later fell into the wrong crowd and relapsed, the court heard.

'All made up'

She told her parents she wanted to do a PhD and claimed she had interviews at both Cambridge and Oxford universities, and was later accepted at Oxford.

However, Philip Lee, prosecuting, said "this was all made up".

Image caption Frank and Marilyn Boardman gave up their jobs and sold their home to fund Boardman's supposed studies

As well as funding her supposed studies over a period of four years, Boardman's parents also paid for "fake university trips" to Mongolia and Greece, the court heard.

Frank and Marilyn Boardman gave up their jobs and sold their home, believing their daughter's claims that she would make £3m on the strength of her academic work and pay back the money.

Boardman spent £10,000 on a marriage to a man from Redruth whom she knew her family "hated", with no family members invited, the court heard.

She then became pregnant and told her parents that she had a stillbirth and invited them to a "sham" ceremony where the ashes were scattered, in an attempt to gain further sympathy.

'Sophisticated operation'

Mr Lee said: "The defendant later admitted to the police that she had lied about that and her pregnancy had been terminated in May."

It was only after Boardman went missing that her mother found a note confessing to her relapse and secret marriage.

The court heard she had spent a total of £250,000 of her parents' money, and they had no funds for their retirement or to spend on their other two children.

Judge James Dingemans said it was a "prolonged" and "sophisticated" operation.

He added that it was another example of the "destruction caused to society because of the use of drugs".

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