A scheming cleaner who conned her best friend and other generous well-wishers out of £90,000 by pretending she had terminal CANCER has been jailed.
Shameless Catherine Moreton, 59, told devastated pals she had just months to live after being struck with a rare form of eye cancer.
One friend Beverley Lawton, 57, who employed Moreton at her cleaning firm, lent her £80,000 in the belief it was to pay for expensive private treatment.
A court heard how the kind-hearted mum-of-two even plunged HERSELF into debt in order to help out her friend.
But perfectly healthy Moreton was actually using the money to pay off her own MORTGAGE while her friends thought she was dying.
The callous conwoman also swindled a paraplegic client out of a further £10,000 after she bonded with him while cleaning his home.
Moreton continued the scam for almost five years until she was finally rumbled last November when friends noticed she had not lost her hair despite claims she had undergone gruelling chemotherapy sessions.
At Stoke Crown Court on Monday she was jailed for two years after she pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud.
Sentencing judge David Fletcher slammed Moreton for her manipulative actions and said the case was ‘hugely troubling’.
He said: “You used that emotive word ‘cancer’ and you said you had cancer in the eye and it would be a very hard individual who wouldn’t respond to that.
“Any reading of this case reveals a shocking state of circumstances.”
The court heard grandmother-of-one Beverley first met Moreton when she started work at her business, Klean Kare, in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.
They soon became friends and she first lent Moreton £1,000 in 2005 after she said her father had died in a nursing home and she needed money to pay for his care.
Then in 2007, Moreton told Ms Lawton that she was dying of cancer and needed money to help pay for private treatment.
From that moment, Moreton began borrowing sums of money ranging from between £200 cash, to cheques for up to £1,500.
However, suspicions were raised when her hair did not fall out and she went on cleaning jobs when she supposedly had hospital appointments.
Prosecuting Heather Chamberlin said: “The defendant said the treatment was not available on the NHS and over five years Ms Lawton handed over large sums of money which amounted to something in the region of £80,000.
“This resulted in Ms Lawton running up considerable debts of between £30,000 to £40,000.”
Devastated Beverley, who was in court to see Moreton jailed, said the stress of the con had led to the breakdown of her marriage and forced her to lay off employees.
After the case she branded Moreton “evil” and as “the scum of the earth.”
She fumed: “There are people dying of cancer every day, and she is just walking around pretending to have cancer so she can take money off people to pay her mortgage – she is the scum of the earth.
“For her to come to me, crying her eyes out, because she said she was dying of cancer, when it was all a lie is just sickening.
“I thought she was my best friend. She would come round for a meal at Christmas. She would say, ‘you are my family’.
“I do feel a fool, now, but if it was true, and she had died of cancer, how would I have felt?
“I didn’t want her to die, and I thought I could help, so I did.
“It gives us some solace that she is now behind bars but I think she should have been given even longer.
“Because of what she has done my marriage has broken down and I have had to let eight members of staff go.
“She is evil beyond belief – I hate her.”
Fellow victim Paul Bennett, 48, met Moreton when she started cleaning his home in Trentham, Stoke.
She talked the paraplegic – left disabled after a serious crash – into handing over around £10,000.
He told the court: “I feel naive and a fool. It will be hard to trust people now.”
The court heard friends and relatives of Beverley were also duped by Moreton’s pack of lies.
Her daughter Katrina Lawton, 33, added: “I also believed her story when she was crying to us.
“She is a manipulative woman.”
Nicola Bell, defending, told the court Moreton had resorted to the fraud after paying her father’s funeral costs left her in debt.
She said: “I cannot excuse the inexcusable.
“In this case there was no extravagant lifestyle – she was trying to repay debts which had spiralled out of control.”
The court heard Moreton had since paid back about £30,000 to Beverley and £5,000 to Paul.