Woman claimed four kinds of cancer to con £130k from spinster

For over two years Beth Parr said she was suffering from brain, lung, bone and eye cancer

A cynical fraudster “fleeced” a trusting and wealthy spinster out of almost £130,000 by telling her she had four different types of cancer, a court heard.

Beth Parr, 36, conned her friend Maureen Briscoe over a period of two-and-a-half years by telling her she needed treatment for brain, lung, bone and eye cancer.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Ms Parr also lied to her husband and 14-year-old daughter, who also believed she was seriously ill.

But, in fact, she has never suffered from any form of cancer and was using the cash she conned out of her friend to spend on a “luxury and extravagant” lifestyle beyond her means.

The spending included trips abroad to destinations like Jamaica, “a motor vehicle” and gadgets  like tablet computers, the court heard.

Sentencing her to two years and four months in prison, Judge Dennis Watson QC said: “Four different forms of cancer which were all deployed cynically in an attempt, to use the old-fashioned phrase, to fleece her.

“The wool on the back of the animal was shorn and fleeced with the skill of an  accomplished fraudster,” the judge explained.

Ms Parr, of Yelverton Road, Birkenhead, bowed her head and wept quietly as the details and extent of her fraud were laid bare.

Ms Parr claimed she did not realise that Ms Briscoe had a phobia of cancer but Judge Watson said he “did not accept for a minute” that Ms Parr did not know that the victim was “worried about cancer”.

He said Ms Briscoe, 68, was a “spinster” who had retired “because she was suffering from an obsessive fear of cancer”.

He added: “You knew that she was on her own. You targeted her because of that. She had no family.”

He said Parr was motivated by “greed” and the fact that Ms Briscoe thought of the defendant as family showed there was “a significant element of trust” that was placed in her which Parr “deliberately and cynically took advantage of”.

“You told her over a period of two-and-a-half years a series of callous lies,” the judge added.

Ms Parr, wearing a khaki jacket and black trousers, pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud when she appeared in court yesterday. She told police she was ashamed, saying her lies had “snowballed” and adding: “It all became too easy and silly.” She admitted she had been “greedy”.

John Weate, defending, said Ms Parr was genuinely remorseful and ashamed of what she had done.

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride