Woman faked terminal cancer to trick friends into paying for dream wedding

A woman faked terminal cancer to deceive devastated friends into paying £8,500 for her dream wedding.

Toni Standen, 29, even shaved her head and gave newspaper interviews to tug at the heart strings while saying she wanted her dad Derek, who was dying of cancer, to walk her down the aisle.

She said of the disease: "It's gone to my brain, my bones – it's everywhere."

Friends launched a GoFundMe page to give her and partner James "a wedding they deserve", the Daily Mirror reports.

Derek, 57, died before the big day but a video he recorded was played.

Guests were in tears, but moments later Standen was cracking gags. One said: "After hearing her father's laboured words she got up and gave a faultless speech, even cracking a few jokes."

"Her mother and brother were in bits. We'd all just listened to a father of the bride message from beyond the grave. She laughed throughout."

After the wedding in Widnes, Cheshire, Standen and new husband James, 52, went to a nearby hotel.

Witnesses claim she rifled through wedding cards, counting the cash inside, before heading to the honeymoon in Turkey.

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Her lying was finally exposed when she claimed to have coronavirus, arousing suspicion among her friends.

She has ben told she now faces jail after admitting fraud at Chester Magistrates' Court.

Her friends call it the "ultimate betrayal".

College pal Cheryl Aston, 33, donated £525 and said: "She could have won an Oscar, her acting was that good.

"She fooled us all. We were all completely sucked in.

"She told me she was dying and I fell for it."

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Another friend said: "We were all in awe of this woman who, instead of fading away as the 'cancer' took hold, got stronger every day.

"But she knew full well nobody would question the honesty or integrity of a cancer victim."

Jobless Standen pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation between February 2019 and April 2020.

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The wedding at St Bede's Catholic Church in Widnes, Cheshire, was followed by a reception for 150 guests. But the lies still kept coming.

In January this year, she said she had two months to live and her organs had begun to fail. In February, her Facebook page said: "RIP TONI. Our lovely Toni passed away last night, surrounded by friends and family…strong until the end."

Standen blamed the post on hackers but friends believe "she did it for attention".

In March, again appearing to defy her "illness", Standen went on holiday with James – visiting Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Italy.

Then in April, she claimed to have caught Covid-19, causing friends to question her.

She then admitted the lies.

District judge Nicholas Sanders said she committed a "horrible breach of trust".

A judge can order Standen to repay the donations.

Care worker Cheryl said: "If we get anything back, I’m going to donate it to a cancer charity. There needs to be some light at the end of this dark tale."

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