Cancer con Amman Valley man 'tricked own family'
2:08pm Friday 20th December 2013 in News
A FORMER Glanaman man tricked his own family and well-wishers out of thousands of pounds by pretending he had cancer, Swansea Crown Court has has heard.
Gary Francis, formerly of 2 Maes Grenig, but now living in Dafen, put up posters saying he had a brain tumour.
The 30-year-old said he would need £28,000 worth of private medical treatment on top of NHS care if he was to survive.
His "illness" led to a money raising campaign and Francis appeared in local newspapers.
His own brother undertook a fundraising climb of the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales.
Francis shaved off his hair and eyebrows and said it was the result of chemotherapy treatment.
And he started walking with a stick and trailing a leg behind him, explaining that it was a side effect.
People organised raffles and collections, Francis's local church donated £1,000 and a company handed over another £1,000.
While they were busy on his behalf, Francis was spending the £12,800 raised on sprucing up his house.
Francis admitted six offences of fraud.
The scam came to an end when his worried family went to his GP saying they feared he was about to die. But the doctor said he wasn't being treated for anything.
They confronted Francis, who broke down and confessed.
Frank Phillips, the barrister representing Francis, said he had suffered headaches. But instead of going to his GP he surfed the internet and self-diagnosed himself as having a cancerous brain tumour.
"By the time he realised he was not ill the ball was rolling and he could not find a way of stopping it," added Mr Phillips.
He said Francis had been in a relationship with a woman who walked out leaving him with debts.
There were now, he added, “grave” feelings towards Francis from within the local community.
Members of Francis' family had repaid £2,000 but the vast majority of donors had contributed cash and could not be traced.
Judge Peter Heywood said he was able to send Francis to jail immediately.
But he thought it would be better if he served a sentence within the community he had offended.
He told Francis, “You even conned members of your own family. Your illness was a complete myth.
“Instead of going to your doctor you went onto the internet and self-diagnosed yourself. It was utter nonsense that you have a brain tumour.”
Francis was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.