Gainsborough woman whose elaborate cancer hoax conned employer out of £14,000 is ordered to pay back £1

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

A fraudster from Gainsborough who conned her employer out of thousands of pounds after carrying out an elaborate cancer hoax has been ordered to pay back just £1.

Kelsey Whitehead, 38, was ruled to have benefited from her crimes by £14,821. But during a hearing on Monday at Lincoln Crown Court to decide on the confiscation of Whitehead’s assets, Judge John Pini QC ordered she should pay a nominal sum of £1 as she had no available assets to seize.

Whitehead, of Lea Road, previously admitted two charges of fraud. At a hearing in March she was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for a year with a 20-week curfew and a ten-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

The court heard that Whitehead claimed to have stage four Metastatic Osteosarcoma which had spread throughout her body.

She revealed her “condition” on Facebook and duped her boss at Hull-based firm Carbon Electric, backing up her story by appearing to show symptoms of the disease.

She claimed the NHS had refused to pay for her treatment, resulting in her employer loaning her £5,000. Later when she went off ill they paid her almost £10,000 in sick pay.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said the entire cancer story was fiction with Whitehead researching the symptoms on the internet.

She used medication she bought on the web and went on to buy a Hickman Line, a specialist type of drip, which she inserted into her own chest after cutting into her body. The drip, she said, was for administering medication.

Mr Howes said Whitehead also shaved off her hair and used make-up to give the impression she was not sleeping at night. She would vomit at work claiming it was part of her illness.

The hoax came to light in May last year after Whitehead took an overdose and was admitted to hospital.

Mr Howes said: “This was an elaborate hoax in order to get money that she wasn’t entitled to and get a loan she wasn’t entitled to.”

Karen Walton, in mitigation, said Whitehead had a history of lying which stemmed from abuse she suffered as a child and resulted in a constant fear of abandonment.

Ms Walton said: “She has suffered whole life trauma caused by the abuse and lack of support from both parents. The traumatic events of her past are portrayed as having had a very acute impact on her as her life has progressed. She feels remorse for all her behaviour.”

Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, described her fraud as an insult to genuine cancer sufferers. “Your behaviour has been bizarre,” he added. “To insert a tube and keep it there without medical supervision indicates there is a real psychological problem.”