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

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The Independent Online

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.