Danielle Watson admits fraudulently claiming to have cancer to pay for wedding

Danielle Watson admits fraudulently claiming to have cancer to pay for wedding

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Introduction

Weddings nowadays can be ruinously expensive. Saying ‘I do’ to the one you love can easily set you back a five figure sum (and then sum). Not surprising then, that in an age of austerity people have to be a bit creative.

Back in early 2012, blushing bride to be Danielle Watson (aged 24) hit on an alternative method of crowdsourcing the funding for her wedding – pretending that “she had stage four cervical cancer and had brought her wedding forward to April, so that it would take place before radiotherapy and chemotherapy made her hair fall out“.

The good folk of Colchester responded admirably to this – “she got free or discounted deals on haircuts, a wedding dress, a wedding reception at the Ivory Rooms in Billericay and, at fundraising events, she raised almost £10,000 towards “vitamin C treatment”“.

It turned out that she had never had cancer or any treatment for cancer, as she admitted on the 20th October 2014 on the first day of her trial for six counts of fraud relating to this.

The case has been adjourned to sentence to the 9th January 2015. It’s not clear why such a long period of time – this would usually indicate the need for medical reports to be obtained.

 

What will she get?

The starting point are the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud (hot off the press from 1st October this year). Follow the link and go to page 6.

It is still early days of these, but we’d suggest that it is ‘High Culpability’ (which is Culpability A)on the basis of the blatant fraud, the number of victims and the circumstances are such that it is akin to having vulnerable victims and/or an abuse of trust.

On the basis of of the amount obtained (or intended to be obtained) being over the £10,000 the harm is bang in the middle of Category 4. There will be a small amount (about 10%) credit for the plea of guilty.

This gives a starting point of 18 months, with a range of 6 months to 3 years. It is difficult to know what she will get. One view would be that this is a really serious offence as it is such a cold and calculating offence that preys on people’s generosity. This would lead to a sentence of about 18-24 months.

The other view is that this is someone who has never been in trouble before (which would appear to be the case) and this is something that escalated and got out of hand. This would give a sentence of about 12-18 months, but suspended.

We don’t know which of those two broad scenarios this case would fall into it. We’ll be back in January to have a look though.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

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