Man who pretended to have cancer to steal £2k from his elderly mother-in-law is fined in court

UK News

A woman whose husband lied to her about having terminal cancer to swindle £2,000 from her elderly mother for ‘treatment’ said that he ‘stole so much of my life’.

Lucy Witchard, 31, from Leicester, was told David Carroll, 35, had leukaemia when then they first met in 2006.

The couple later married in 2011 and went on to have a child before Carroll said his condition had worsened.

In 2015 Carroll told his mother-in-law Linda Eccles, who had been widowed three years earlier, that he might only have five months to live as he had terminal stomach cancer.

Concerned for her young grandchild, David and Lucy’s daughter, she gave him £2,000 for treatment in the US.

But his lies unravelled while he was overseas and his wife and her brother became suspicious.

When Ms Witchard confronted her husband on his return, he became infuriated with her accusations. He even had a colleague call her to lie about appointments.

Carroll, of Ruthin, Denbighshire, Wales, was convicted after a day-long trial at Leicester Magistrates’ Court.

He was found guilty of defrauding his mother-in-law of £2,000 between May 1 and June 3, 2015.

Judge Fudge ordered him to repay the £2,000 back at a minimum of £100 a month.

She also made a restraining order banning Carroll from contacting his ex-wife or former mother-in-law for a year.

Lucy Witchard, 31, from Leicester, was first told David Carroll had leukaemia when then they first met in 2006

Lucy Witchard, 31, from Leicester, was first told David Carroll had leukaemia when then they first met in 2006

Lucy Witchard, 31, from Leicester, was first told David Carroll had leukaemia when then they first met in 2006

David Carroll (above), 35, also from Leicester, pretended to have terminal cancer and swindled £2,000 from his mother-in-law Linda Eccles

David Carroll (above), 35, also from Leicester, pretended to have terminal cancer and swindled £2,000 from his mother-in-law Linda Eccles

David Carroll (above), 35, also from Leicester, pretended to have terminal cancer and swindled £2,000 from his mother-in-law Linda Eccles

Ms Witchard, 31, speaking to MailOnline after Carroll was given a suspended sentence for fraud, said: ‘He should have been jailed for his crime. What he did was despicable and he really hurt me, my mum and other family members. He is a disgrace.

‘I never want to see him again, I couldn’t bear to and I’ve got rid of nearly all our pictures. I can’t look at his face. I have only kept our wedding album because I want to show that to my daughter one day.’

She understands compulsive liar Carroll tried to swindle money raised for charity from a rugby club he played for, Aylestone Athletic RFU.

Speaking from her home in Evington, Leicester, she told how her ex husband had given a ‘similar sob story’ to the club, telling them too he was a cancer victim.

She said: ‘One night there was a charity fund raiser, not specifically for him, but I think it was for a cancer cause. The money raised went missing and a lot of questions were asked but it seems it re-appeared at a later date. Everyone suspects he had swiped it when they found out what he had done to me and my mum.

‘I wonder how many other people he has conned. That’s the only reason we took it to court to try and stop someone else falling prey to him.’ 

Ms Witchard, a religious education teacher at St Pauls School in Evington, where her late father Bernard once taught the same subject, said: ‘I should have known better. I had my suspicions about him when he said he had terminal cancer because I was never allowed to come with him to any hospital scans. But he was so manipulative and always turned it round telling me I was meant to be accompanying him but I’d forgotten to and in the end I wasn’t sure what I was thinking and maybe I was at fault.

'I knew after that phone call that our marriage was over,' she said

'I knew after that phone call that our marriage was over,' she said

The couple divorced later that year and his ex-wife said the years of lying had left her feeling 'so incredibly hurt and angry.

The couple divorced later that year and his ex-wife said the years of lying had left her feeling 'so incredibly hurt and angry.

Ex-wife Ms Witchard told the BBC: ‘He even got a work colleague to call me pretending to be his doctor’

Carroll was found guilty of fraud by false representation and given a 26-week prison suspended sentence at Leicester Magistrates' Court 

Carroll was found guilty of fraud by false representation and given a 26-week prison suspended sentence at Leicester Magistrates' Court 

Carroll was found guilty of fraud by false representation and given a 26-week prison suspended sentence at Leicester Magistrates’ Court 

‘That’s exactly how he wanted me to feel, to confuse me and manipulate me and my mum to cover up his wicked lies.

‘I was with hin for eight and a half years, married for three and a half and now thankfully divorced from him.’ 

The couple divorced later that year and his ex-wife said the years of lying had left her feeling ‘so incredibly hurt and angry’. 

Prosecutor Ali Zaki told Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday how Carroll, who wept and sobbed in the dock, invented the fatal condition to con the money out of mother-in-law Mrs Eccles.

He said: ‘The whole plan was to fake the cancer to get the money. He lied about having cancer which led to him receiving a £2,000 payment from Mrs Eccles.

‘He then went to the United States.’ 

Mrs Eccles, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, read out a victim impact statement in court.

The widow, a former teacher at St Joseph’s Primary School in Thurnby Lodge, Leicester, spoke out as she sat in her mobility scooter at the back of the courtroom.

She said: ‘In 2015, Dave came to me and was very upset. He told me that he had been given five to 10 months to live and there was no other treatment available to him.

‘How could I stand by, knowing that I had money to help my daughter’s dying husband, prevent my daughter from becoming a widow.

‘I gave Dave £2,000 to help contribute to the funds he needed to travel to America to save his life.’

She told the court how her son Thomas and his wife Abi were suspicious of Dave’ s story and began to investigate.

Mrs Eccles, whose husband Bernard was a religious education teacher at St Paul’s School in Evington, Leicester, said: ‘This is when the lies began to unravel.

‘As time progressed the catalogue of lies increased. I had to be strong for my daughter who was devastated by the cruel wicked lies Dave had told her for so long.

‘I feel aggrieved that so much of the money that my late husband Bernard had provided for me had been spent on Dave’s holiday to America.

‘He has violated our family by his lies, deceit and selfishness.’  

Gordon Hart, defending, said his client was a man of previous good character who was suffering from a personality disorder at the time he committed the fraud.

He said: ‘He has betrayed his family by his faking of illness but he had a medical condition.

‘It has been recognised and he has had recognised treatment. This fraud is definitely a one-off event.’

Mr Hart said Carroll, who lives with and cares for his mother, had faked illness many times since 2007 not for any financial gain but to receive sympathy.

He said that Carroll had, over the years, even been faking illness when he was raising money for charities.

He said: ‘There is no suggestion that the money he raised for charities at that time went anywhere else than to the charities it was intended for.’

District Judge Sally Fudge sentenced Carroll to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years. She also ordered him to carry out 180 hours unpaid work.

Ms Witchard pictured at her wedding to husband Keith in April this year

Ms Witchard pictured at her wedding to husband Keith in April this year

Ms Witchard pictured at her wedding to husband Keith in April this year

She said Carroll had come very close to being jailed.

Judge Fudge said: ‘This offence clearly crosses the custody threshold but it seems to me there is the prospect of rehabilitation. You have made some steps in the right direction.

‘Moreover you have a responsibility to your mother who has significant health health needs.

‘There is a deep level of hurt you caused your family through this. It is a very fine balance but I am able to suspend the custodial sentence today.’ 

Ms Witchard is now happily married to her new husband Keith, whom she wed in a ceremony in April this year. 

After the case, Mrs Eccles said: ‘I rue the day that my daughter met this man.

‘This has torn our lives apart and I am amazed that he has not been sent to jail.

‘I just hope people read this and he is not able to con anyone else out of money by lying about dying of cancer. How could he do that – and to his own family?’

Ms Witchard has parental rights over their daughter while Carroll, who now lives in Wales, has supervised contact.

She admitted: ‘That’s going to be tough. There’s no way I’m going to be there when he sees our daughter. I can’t look at him, but my close friends and family members have offered to help with the supervised meetings. They haven’t started yet but soon will. I feel sorry that I’m having to put them through this but I guess he has a right to see our daughter.

‘There is also a restraining order which means he can’t be in the same vicinity as me.

‘We just have to move on with our lives as best we can but it’s taken a real toll, particularly on my mum.

She added: ‘He is paying my mum back slowly, although we’ve yet to see an instalment, but it was never really about the money just the breach of trust and the terrible hurt he’s cause us. We were so concerned he would do it again and now hopefully that is an end to it.

‘But the worse thing is he’s shown absolutely no remorse.’ 


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