Wales

Woman lied about cancer in attempt to get charity to fund £15k wedding

Carla Evans Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption The deception was uncovered before the wedding was organised

A woman who said she was dying from cancer so a charity would organise a £15,000 wedding has avoided jail.

Carla Evans, 29, claimed she had bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, liver and kidney failure.

Her story unravelled when the Wish For a Wedding charity asked for proof 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 judge branded her "the lowest of the low", saying she inflicted a "cruel and calculated fraud" on the charity.

She must also carry out 120 hours community service and pay a £340 fine.

While the charity planned to organise the £15,000 wedding for her, the deception was uncovered before any money was paid.

Image caption Evans was sentenced to Newport Crown Court after admitting the charge at the city's magistrates' court

Evans had posted on social media that she was dying and asked for help.

A volunteer from the Manchester-based charity - which gives people with terminal illnesses a chance to have a memorable family event - then contacted her.

She described being "terminally ill", saying she wanted to renew her vows with her husband of 10 years, but was not sure she would make it.

Outlining the diagnosis in her application in November 2018, she wrote that she had been "given a time scale of six months maximum".

After being taken in by her lies, the charity offered to help organise a vow renewal ceremony worth £15,000, with Evans only asked to pay £500 towards the cost.

Rachael Kirkwood, who runs the charity, said the scam was quite quickly exposed after staff contacted a hospital to verify her story.

"They said 'we don't know who this lady is. This signature [of the consultant] is forged'," she added.

"The next thing we heard was from the NHS fraud service."

Ms Kirkwood described how her charity gives couples facing a terminal illness "one last wish" and helps them get married.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Evans avoided jail but must carry out 120 hours of community service

They help arrange up to ten weddings a year by asking wedding suppliers such as florists to donate to the couples asking for help.

"She clearly didn't think we would check. I just don't understand how people can have the nerve to do such a thing," she added.

In a victim statement read to the court, Karen Hobbs from the charity said: "I don't think I can trust anyone again.

"I became very close with Carla. I confided in her.

"I was helping make memories for her family so I wanted to make it memorable. She was so convincing."

'Wicked person'

Evans said she was "deeply sorry" and had received numerous abusive messages since the deception.

Judge Jeremy Jenkins condemned Evans for inflicting a "cruel and calculated" fraud on the charity, adding: "This was a despicable act.

"It took a particularly devious and wicked type of person to do this. You are that devious and wicked person.

"You should be utterly ashamed of yourself. Your behaviour beggars belief."

He said he would have given her 18 months in prison if she did not have two children who depended on her care.

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."

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