A fraudster who conned her employer out of thousands of pounds after carrying out an elaborate cancer hoax in which she inserted a fake drip in to her own chest was today ordered to pay back just £1.
Kelsey Whitehead, 38, was ruled to have benefited from her crimes by £14,821 but has no available assets to seize.
At today’s hearing at Lincoln Crown Court to decide on the confiscation of Whitehead’s assets Judge John Pini QC ordered that she should pay a nominal sum of £1 as no assets have been identified.
Whitehead, of Lea Road, Gainsborough, 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 night time curfew and a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
The court heard that Whitehead claimed to have stage four Metastatic Osteosarcoma which had spread throughout her body.
In a Facebook post she revealed her “condition” and completely duped her boss at the Hull-based firm Carbon Electric backing up her story by appearing to show the symptoms of the disease.
She went on to claim that the NHS had refused to pay for her treatment and would only fund palliative care forcing her to go private.
As a result her employers loaned her £5,000 so that she could have the treatment. 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 and then displaying symptoms she had researched 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 claimed, was to allow medication to be administered.
Mr Howes said that 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.
Whitehead’s wife Sophie was so taken in that she gave up her job to care for her believing she did not have long to live.
The hoax came to light in May 2016 after Whitehead took an overdose and was admitted to hospital.
Mr Howes said: “Her partner said she had cancer. They did the checks and there was no record of it
“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.”
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, described her fraud as an insult to genuine cancer sufferers.
But the judge said he also had to look at what had caused Whitehead to behave in the way she did.
He said there was evidence that Whitehead had suffered from a number of traumas in her life including sexual, physical and emotional abuse and also suffered from being bullied at school.
“Your behaviour has been bizarre. To insert a tube and keep it there without medical supervision indicates there is a real psychological problem.
“The psychiatrist said you have suffered your whole life from severe trauma caused by abuse and your capability to form healthy and fulfilling relationships has been impaired. That, it seems to me, has triggered your behaviour.”
Karen Walton, in mitigation, said that Whitehead had a history of lying since she was a teenager which stemmed from abuse she suffered as a child and resulted in a constant fear of abandonment.
“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.”