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Woman who lied about terminal cancer to raise Sh1.1 million to pay for wedding is jailed

 Toni Standen was jailed after deceiving friends into thinking she had terminal cancer to raise cash for her wedding (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A woman who lied to friends about having terminal cancer so they would contribute to the cost of her dream wedding has been jailed.

Toni Standen, 29, claimed ovarian cancer had spread to other parts of her body and that she had received a terminal diagnosis.

Close friends launched a GoFundMe page to give Standen and her partner - who had no knowledge of her deception - "a wedding they deserve".

Standen pleaded guilty to fraud, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Today District Judge Nicholas Sanders jailed her for five months at Chester Magistrates Court, and ordered her to repay a donation of Sh292,000 (£2,000) made by a local businessman.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that in June 2015, Standen told two of her friends, Ashlea Rowson and Jennifer Douglas, that she had been diagnosed with terminal vaginal cancer.

 Standen invented a story that ovarian cancer had spread to other parts of her body and that she had received a terminal diagnosis (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Ms Standen provided regular updates on her treatment to her friends with such clarity and detail that the condition was never questioned.

She also shaved her head to appear as though she was undergoing treatment and shared pictures of this on social media.

Standen raised Sh1.2million (£8,344) via the crowdfunding page and through gifts including flowers and cars for the wedding.

Standen tugged at heart strings by saying she wanted her dad Derek, who was genuinely dying of cancer, to walk her down the aisle.

Derek died before the wedding but a video he recorded was played on the big day.

Guests said that after the recording was played Standen was up cracking gags.

 The 29-year-old shaved her head, the court heard (Image: Liverpool Echo)

One guest said: "After hearing her father's laboured words she got up and gave a faultless speech, even cracking a few jokes.

"Her mother and brother were in bits. We'd all just listened to a father of the bride message from beyond the grave.

"Toni even received a video message from Everton FC, delivered by one of the top players. She laughed throughout."

Suspicion grew surrounding Standen’s condition after the wedding.

 Standen posted updates on her cancer battle online (Image: Screengrab | Mirror)

Eventually she admitted what she had done in a three-way phone call with her friends which they recorded. In the call she admitted that she did not have cancer and never had.

In a text to friends after she admitted her scam, she said: "I love you both, I am thankful for everything over the last couple of years.

"I am very sorry for all of this, I am embarrassed and heartbroken and right now I am struggling. There is so much I want to say but struggling where to start.

"At the minute I don't know if Jim and I will be getting a divorce, I don't blame him if he does and I don't blame you both if this is the end, I completely understand and will have to somehow move on through it"

Neil Colville, Senior District Prosecutor for CPS Mersey Cheshire said to the  ECHO  : “Toni Standen made up an terminal illness to gain sympathy and then watched as her friends raised money to support her through what they thought were her final years. She used that money to fund a wedding and a holiday.

“Her own father was genuinely ill but her condition was a fraud. She appears to have dug herself deeper and deeper into the deception as the years went by and seemed incapable of telling the truth and bringing the deception to an end.

“A local business man donated £2,000 as he was so moved by her plight. He said in a Victim Personal Statement that he would think twice before giving to this sort of charity again.

"This was a sophisticated fraud, carried out over a number of years and has left her friends and others devastated. They feel cheated and betrayed.

“It is clear this has had a devastating effect on Ms Standen too. But she has only herself to blame and will now spend Christmas and several months after behind bars.”

Judge Sanders, sentencing, said: “You continued to embellish that tissue of lies, saying you had weeks to live.

"I don't accept you couldn't stop. Not only did you not stop, you made it worse by giving newspaper interviews to engender public sympathy.

"You used that money raised through the generosity of strangers to fund a wedding and a holiday. You kept taking money over many months.

"Every right thinking member of society would be appalled by your behaviour.”

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