A shameless mum pretended that she was battling terminal cancer and had been given just 18 months to live in order to bag a £7,000 VIP "last trip" to Disneyland Paris with her children.
Serial liar Stephanie Hunter gave heart-rending updates to colleagues about her lung cancer, telling them that it had spread to her brain – and she even had her head shaved and wore a scarf in a "truly despicable" scam.
She even took her husband, Jamie Wilkinson, who says his life has been "shattered" by the lies, to a funeral director to make arrangements for her after her death, a court heard.
Hunter, 32, of Freemantle Avenue, Hull, admitted fraud and perverting the course of justice, HullLive reports.
David Godfrey, prosecuting, told Hull Crown Court that mother-of-three Hunter worked during 2016 as a telesales agent for ResQ in George Street, Hull.
But she reported as sick for work, provided a sick note for 21 days and pretended that she had cancer and needed lung surgery.
She later claimed that her treatment had not worked and that she needed aggressive chemotherapy for three months.
She gave dates when treatment would supposedly take place and was told to come to work only if she could cope.
In January 2017, she shaved her head and wore a headscarf after which she never worked a full week until September 2017.
She told a payroll manager that she had discharged herself from hospital to attend a work shift.
Her concerned colleagues began fund-raising "to give the family one last trip" and a Just Giving page was created. "People, understandably, were very generous," said Mr Godfrey.
She said that she wanted to take her three children to Disneyland Paris. Prize draws were organised, with prizes donated by local businesses, and considerable effort went to raising a total of £10,446.
Hunter was given a VIP trip to Disneyland Paris with first-class train travel, a journey by Eurostar and a five-star hotel on full board, with an upgraded restaurant pass as well as other hotel stays to make the journey easier.
After the trip, it emerged that attempts to obtain medical confirmation of Hunter's condition failed. Her statutory sick pay was stopped.
Social services became involved after concerns from a member of the public about her children and Hunter broke down and admitted that she had fabricated her story.
Hunter also pretended she had cancer while facing court action for rent arrears and possible eviction.
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She claimed in 2017: "I have lung cancer and this has spread to my brain. My diagnosis worsened in March when my condition became terminal."
The total amount of actual money "taken advantage of" was just under £7,000. Some was not spent.
John Dunning, mitigating, said: "The original motivation for this was simply to have attention and sympathy.
"She took sophisticated action in order to maintain the lie – shaving the head. The motivating factor for this was a desire for attention."
Hunter regretted her actions and had said: "I never want to put myself in this position again."
She had no previous convictions but a psychiatrist believed she had an emotionally unstable personality.
Judge John Thackray QC told Hunter that she "preyed upon and indeed manipulated" the instinctive emotions and kindness of people who were saddened by her supposed condition.
"Your lies and conduct were truly despicable," said Judge Thackray. "Offending like this does undermine public confidence and deters people from making charitable donations.
"You will undoubtedly have eroded trust going forward of those whom you conned and those who wil be aware of this case to the detriment of genuine cancer victims."
Harding was jailed for 15 months. She sobbed as she was led from the dock.
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