A BRIDE who faked having terminal cancer to con loved ones into paying over £8,000 for her dream wedding was jailed today.
Toni Standen, 29, shaved her head and lied to friends and family – as well as her local paper – saying: “It’s gone to my brain, my bones – it’s everywhere.
She said it was her “dying wish” to tie the knot with 52-year-old hubby James so those closest to her – as well as kindhearted strangers – rallied round.
They raised the funds by setting up a GoFundMe page in February last year after Standen claimed her vaginal cancer was terminal.
Jobless Standen, of Widnes, Cheshire, also tugged at heartstrings by saying she wanted her dad Derek, 57, who was dying of cancer, to walk her down the aisle.
He died before the big day but an emotional video recording was played leaving guests in tears.
Standen and her partner James married at St Bede’s Catholic Church, Widnes, last summer before having a reception at a nearby sports club with around 150 guests.
The couple then went on honeymoon to Turkey – paid for by well-wishers.
The fundraiser – titled ‘Help Give Toni and Jim The Wedding They Deserve’ – raised £8,344, with the cash paid straight into Standen’s bank account.
A picture posted on social media showed her lying on a bed in a hotel room following their big day while rifling through wedding cards, counting the cash inside.
In July 2017, Standen was interviewed in her local paper saying she had cancer.
She gave a second interview last year, telling of the “devastating” news her illness was terminal.
Then, in January this year, Standen went as far to say she had two months to live and her organs had started to fail.
And in February, a post on her Facebook page – which she later blamed on hackers said: “RIP TONI. Our lovely Toni passed away last night, surrounded by friends and family… strong until the end.”
Duped best friend Ashlea Rowson [Corr] confronted Standen in April this year and she finally admitted her lies.
In a victim impact statement, Ashlea, whose suspicions were raised when Standen claimed she’d caught coronavirus, said: “Toni was my closest friend. I loved her like a sister.
“Every heartache and setback in relation to her alleged cancer. I experienced those emotions too.
“While the facts no longer stand, my experience remains real. My tears were real, my grief was real and still is.
“I believe the greatest disservice has been to each and every person who has fought or is fighting a genuine battle with this disease.
“Toni’s father being one of them.”
Cheryl Aston, 33, who donated £525, said: “She could have won an Oscar, her acting was that good.”
Her aunt Connie Atherton said: “It’s come as a big shock to us. We went to the wedding. She betrayed her friends.”
Standen’s “unassuming” husband was also duped, according to the Mirror.
She was jailed for five months at Chester Magistrates’ Court after admitting fraud.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders told her: “Every right thinking member of society would be appalled by your behaviour.
“Thankfully it’s not often this court has to sentence someone who has shown such a degree of shamelessness, such greed, or such a betrayal of friendship as you did to your friends and the wider community.
“You made up an illness to gain the sympathy of your friends and sat back and watched as they raised money to support you.
“You continued to embellish that tissue of lies, telling those same friends on one occasion that you only had weeks to live.
“I don’t accept what’s said that having started you simply couldn’t stop.
“Not only did you not stop but you made it worse. You gave newspaper interviews to engender public sympathy for your made up plight.
“You used that money raised from the generosity of others to fund your wedding and holidays.
“Such was your lack of shame that you kept taking money from them over many, many months.”