A mother has escaped jail time after admitting to stealing £100,000 (AU$184K) raised for her dying son’s cancer treatment.
It was previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post that UK mum Stacey Worsley took the cash from her young son Toby Nye’s fund after it was created to raise money for his treatment of neuroblastoma. Tragically Toby died in January, just days after his sixth birthday.
A court heard that the mother allegedly spent the stolen money – which was donated by a range of people and groups including Leeds United football team – on gambling.
Now, according to The Sun, Worsley, 32, has been handed two years in jail suspended for two years after admitting the fraud at Leeds Crown Court.
The court reportedly heard that she began gambling with the intention of increasing her son’s cancer fund. However, it then allegedly “spiralled” from there – with her reportedly losing £20,000 in 12 days in one incident.
According to the news outlet, Judge Guy Kearl told the mum in court: “You became overwhelmed by the situation in which you found yourself,” before adding: “No-one could fail to be moved by your story.”
He later said: “I note also that the care to Toby was not affected since it was raised by Leeds United. This was any parent’s worst nightmare. I note that this was not money spent on yourself…you were not going on holiday or buying expensive cars or gifts.”
Worsley, 32, was a trustee of the fund that was created to support little Toby following his cancer diagnosis in January 2017 when he was just four years old.
The family had reached out for support from the community on crowdfunding page Just Giving, to help cover the £200,000 cost of intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as an operation to remove the main tumour on his kidney.
“At Christmas Toby became unwell, we took him to the doctors where we were told that he had a virus and he would be ok in a couple of days, however Toby became more ill and was so weak he was unable to walk,” the family explained on the website.
“We took him to A&E (accident and emergency) and on the 6th of January on Toby’s 4th birthday we were given the devastating news that Toby had stage 4 neuroblastoma we were absolutely devastated we didn’t know what to do.”
The goal was soon reached, with little Toby also receiving a visit from Prince Harry and an award for bravery during his cancer battle. Despite his courage and strength the young boy sadly passed away on January 12 this year due to a brain tumour.
Less than two months after her son’s death, Worsley was charged with fraud and pleaded guilty to using donated money for her own purposes.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post previously, a spokesperson at West Yorkshire Police claimed the fraud did not affect Toby’s medical treatment – adding that they had tracked down all the money involved in the case.
“As part of the investigation, police have secured the return of all the money involved with a view to the majority being used to support an identical local good cause, which is yet to be decided on, and an amount being redistributed to identified key donors,” they reportedly said.
“At no point did the fraud affect the child’s medical treatment, which was funded separately.”