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Wirral woman jailed after conning £128,000 from pensioner
9:36am Monday 25th February 2013 in News
A WIRRAL woman cynically conned a trusting pensioner out of £128,000 by falsely claiming she needed money for cancer treatment.
A court heard that Beth Parr not only tricked her former spinster neighbour Maureen Briscoe, who treated her as family, out of the cash but she had also lied to her own husband and daughter for more than a decade.
She told them and friends that she was being treated for cancer and it was only when the fraud on her victim, now aged 68, came to light last summer that they were shocked to learn that she had never been ill at all.
Miss Briscoe had retired from work early on health grounds as she suffered from an obsessive phobia about cancer and a judge rejected claims by Parr that she did not know about that phobia.
Jailing 36-year-old Parr for 28 months Judge Denis Watson, QC, told her, “I don’t accept for a minute that you did not know that she was somebody who obsessed or worried about cancer.”
He said that she had targetted her vulnerable victim and “deliberately and cynically” took advantage of her. “You told her over two and a half years a series of callous lies.”
Over that time she claimed she had four different sorts of cancer, having researched them, and needed expensive treatment for them in a “deeply cynical attempt to fleece her.
“The wool on the back of the animal has been shorn and fleeced with the skill of an accomplished fraudster.”
The judge said her behaviour had been “nothing other than greed” and she had not spent the cash on essentials but on foreign travel, including a holiday in Jamaica, new cars and to fund a lifestyle involving up to date gadgets and in excess of what she was entitled to.
Kim Egerton, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court on Friday that until 2001 the victim lived with her mother next door to Peter Parr, who married the defendant. After Miss Briscoe and her mum moved to Rock Ferry she kept in touch and would send the family money at Christmas and birthdays.
After she fell breaking her wrist in December 2009 Miss Briscoe, whose mother had died, asked the Parrs for help and the couple assisted her. Some time later Miss Briscoe confided in Parr about her finances and said she would be making substantial provision for Parr and her family and would be leaving them her house and Parr went with her to the solicitors when she made her will.
Some time later she asked Miss Briscoe for money to pay off bank debts and she gave her £7,600. After this she began telling her she had various forms of cancer for which she needed urgent treatment which was available privately.
This included saying in February 2010 that she needed £10,000 for experimental drugs treatment for brain cancer and on two further occasions the victim handed over cheques totalling just over £13,000 for the same cancer.
By February the next year she was claiming she had lung cancer and Miss Briscoe gave her cheques for lung wash treatments and further treatment at Christies Hospital. In April last year she said she had cancer of the shin bone and needed £30,000 for treatment to prevent leg amputation.
Miss Egerton said that just four months later her lies involved saying she needed £28,000 for eye cancer treatment but only a first payment of £7,000 was handed over as Miss Briscoe’s concerned financial advisor raised the alarm and the police were notified.
Investigations showed no records of any cancer treatment for Parr and when she was arrested officers seized £5,330 cash including US dollars, Euros and Turkish lira. When interviewed she admitted her lies included telling her husband, who was also arrested, that she had cancer.
“She said she did not pay off the debts she owed even though she had been given money putting it down to greed,” said Miss Egerton.
The court heard that such is the kindness and generosity of the victim, who described how she treated Parr like her own family, that she concluded an impact statement, “I cannot actually hate her and ultimately I would like us to come to some sort of forgiveness.”
Parr, of Yelverton Road, Tranmere, Wirral, pleaded guilty to eight fraud offences.
John Weate, defending, said that Parr was relieved when caught out. Her husband, mother, who suffers from Alzheimers, and teenage daughter are also victims.
She and her husband, a long distance lorry driver, separated after her decade of lies to him emerged and she lives mainly with her mother but the couple are trying to rebuild their relationship.
She had begun lying about cancer when she was 19 and her father abandoned her and her mother. A cervical smear showed she had“unstable cells” and she began saying she had cancer as emotional blackmail to try to get her father back, said Mr Weate.
A psychiatrist found that Parr, who has no previous convictions, was genuinely remorseful and not crying crocodile tears, he added.