Video report by Andy Bonner
A woman who claimed to have terminal cancer and let her friends raise thousands of pounds for her to have a dream wedding has been jailed.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that in June 2015 Toni Standen, 29, from Widnes in Cheshire, told two of her friends that she had been diagnosed with terminal vaginal cancer.
During this time, Standen’s father had also been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she told her friends that it was her father’s wish to see her married before he died.
In response, her friends set up a Go Fund Me page. Standen was the sole beneficiary of this and the proceeds went directly into her bank account.
Standen shaved her head to appear as though she was undergoing treatment and shared pictures of this on social media.
Her story generated a lot of interest both locally and nationally and was reported in the Liverpool Echo and The Mirror.
More than £8,344 was raised via the funding page and numerous gifts including flowers and cars for the wedding were donated.
A wedding which was largely organised by friends and family took place on 27 July 2019 but by that time, Standen’s father had died from his illness.
It wasn't until after the wedding suspsicion surrounding Standen's condition grew and she later admitted in a call to three friends - which they recorded - that she did not have cancer and never had.
Standen pleaded guilty to fraud on 24 November 2020 and was jailed at Chester Magistrates’ Court today.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders jailed her for five months and ordered her to repay a donation of £2,000 made by a local businessman.
Neil Colville, Senior District Prosecutor for CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “Toni Standen made up a terminal illness to gain sympathy and then watched as her friends raised money to support her through what they thought were her final years. She used that money to fund a wedding and a holiday.
“Her own father was genuinely ill but her condition was a fraud. She appears to have dug herself deeper and deeper into the deception as the years went by and seemed incapable of telling the truth and bringing the deception to an end.
“A local business man donated £2,000 as he was so moved by her plight. He said in a Victim Personal Statement that he would think twice before giving to this sort of charity again.
“It is clear this has had a devastating effect on Ms Standen too. But she has only herself to blame and will now spend Christmas and several months after behind bars.”
DJ Sanders, sentencing, said: “You continued to embellish that tissue of lies, saying you had weeks to live. I don't accept you couldn't stop. Not only did you not stop, you made it worse by giving newspaper interviews to engender public sympathy. You used that money raised through the generosity of strangers to fund a wedding and a holiday. You kept taking money over many months. Every right thinking member of society would be appalled by your behaviour.”