‘Heroin addict’, 41, who claimed her mother was seriously ill with cancer found guilty of fraud after conning more than 200 into giving her £850 in donations for charity run she never took part in
A heroin user who lied that her mother was seriously ill with cancer has been found guilty of fraud after conning well-wishers out of nearly £850.
Cheryl Stuart, 41, knocked on doors asking for donations for a fun run saying her mother was ‘just skin and bones’ because of the disease.
More than 200 people — including a widower who lost his wife to cancer — handed over cash but Stuart never planned to to take part in the run.
She was arrested after the daughter of a man who donated £10 became suspicious and alerted police.
Ms Stuart, from Offerton, Stockport, Greater Manchester, took a total of £846.50 over two months.
Sponsors also promised a further £300 once she had completed the race. She kept a list of the addresses she visited, recording how much she had duped from each household.
Cheryl Stuart, 41, who claimed her mother was seriously ill with cancer was found guilty of fraud at Tameside Magistrates Court, Greater Manchester, after conning well-wishers out of £850
Stuart created a sponsorship list for her supposed charity run in June 2018 before going door-to-door across the Trafford area.
Prosecutor Gareth Hughes said: ‘Police were first drawn to the attention of this defendant by a member of the public who reported a female had attended her father’s address and taken £10 for her upcoming charity run.
‘The witness suspected something wasn’t quite right and the matter was reported. Police suspected that it may not just be one individual who had the same problem so spoke to more people in the area.’
Another person scammed by Ms Stuart told police she had been to their house and officers matcher her to CCTV taken from the property before going to her home.
Mr Hughes said: ‘Police attended her address after matching her to the CCTV and she was arrested and her address was searched.
‘Names and addresses and a column of how much money had given from sponsorship was found as well as other items. In total, there were 201 addresses on the list.
‘The defendant had attended these addresses and approached them for cash and obtained money by doing so.
‘The rough figure of sponsorship money is over £1,000 but not all was handed over. Some paid that day some other were to pay on a future occasion.’
Inquiries revealed Ms Stuart (pictured), of Offerton, Stockport, Greater Manchester, took a total of £846.50 over two months. Sponsors also promised a further £300 once she had completed the race
He added: ‘One witness, Mr Wayne Brown who is retired said the defendant attended his address and asked if he could give her sponsorship money upfront.
‘He was suspicious but he gave her £5. When speaking to his wife afterward, he felt he had been duped. He said £5 was not a lot of money, but he had recently lost someone to cancer and how this really angered him.
‘Another witness said the defendant knocked on his front door. He had lost his wife to cancer six years ago.’
The unnamed witness later told police: ‘I should have realised she was fake. She told me that her mum was skin and bones and I believed that she was genuine. I gave her £5. I was so angry she has done this to me, especially after I told her my wife had cancer.’
Stuart who was said to have a ‘heroin difficulty’ had a previous conviction from 2003 for possession of a bladed article. She admitted fraud by false representation and was ordered to complete a 12 month community order plus a six month drug rehabilitation programme.
She was also made subject of a six month curfew between 8pm and 8am and pay £35 compensation to four of the victims who made statements. She was further ordered to pay £285 in costs and surcharges.
Her lawyer Bill Dowdall said: ‘There is not any excuse for this offence, none whatsoever. She has done charity runs for mental health charities because she struggles with that. She is the sole carer for her younger brother who suffered quite a severe stroke.
‘This is not any kind of defence. She accepts what she did was wrong and expects to receive the appropriate penalty. She has not been in any trouble for 20 years — there were difficulties in her youth but that stopped after 2003 and the court could treat her as a someone who is of a good character.
‘Whilst it is accepted this was an unpleasant offence, she has shown remorse and was extremely upset during the time of her interview.
‘She has said she wants to make amends so she did a run at her own expense but for a different charity. She was diagnosed with bipolar and has a heroin difficulty. She certainly requires help and support.’
Sentencing JP David Hughes told Stuart: ‘You should be ashamed of yourself. This is a dishonest and unpleasant course of offending. You preyed on people for your own gain.’