Student jailed after conning her way into lecturer’s life with web of lies – including faking terminal cancer – the teacher lost her marriage, home and job
A student has been jailed for ruining her female lecturer’s life with a web of lies including faking terminal cancer – which saw the teacher lose her marriage, home and job.
Scheming Elisa Bianco, 22, beguiled caring Sally Rettallack, moved into her home, broke up the marriage – and even posed as a man on line to become her internet love interest.
Bianco, 22, met mother-of-four Sally, 49, on a college course and duped her with a long sob story.
She convinced her to let her move into her home by pretending she had been abused by her parents and had three months to live with a malignant tumour.
The cancer story prompted worried Mrs Retallack to give up work – and help fulfil Bianco’s ‘bucket list’, Truro Crown Court heard.
Bianco would be dropped off at hospital every day – but then sit in a cafe in her pyjamas and dress herself in fake bandages.
She became an ”uninvited cuckoo” in the home and used mind games to drive a wedge between Sally and her husband – which eventually saw them split, the court heard.
Calculating Bianco then set Sally up with a ‘recently widowed’ consultant physician ‘John’ – who was actually her using a ‘husky’ voice and fake email address.
Sally and ‘John’ became close – exchanging intimate emails – but Bianco invented a cancer diagnosis for the internet lover and KILLED him off before they could meet.
Sally’s world has been left in tatters and she has now moved to France to try and piece her life back together, the court heard.
Bianco pleaded guilty to stalking,
Judge Christopher Harvey
“I can truthfully say it is
“You were like an uninvited
“Most chilling was the
“You heartlessly manipulated
Bianco met Sally when she enrolled on a college course taught by the health and social care tutor in 2009.
Before they met Mrs Retallack described herself as an “outgoing, positive, career minded individual”.
Bianco, then a 16-year-old from Fowey, Cornwall, was living with her mum and enrolled on the health and social care diploma at St Austell College, in Cornwall.
She aced her first year, but after Mrs Retallack became her personal tutor in the second year, she seemed “socially isolated”, the court heard.
The teenager then falsely told her personal tutor her mother and step-father were alcoholics.
Prosecuting, Philip Lee, said: “It was only discovered much later that these were lies.
“She became increasingly demanding, and Mrs Retallack is sure, looking back, that the defendant had, by then, begun to target her as being a supporting person.”
Bianco claimed to suffer panic attacks at college – sometimes several times a day – and she always called Mrs Retallack to help.
She also said she had been diagnosed with various complex illnesses which she backed up with faked consultants letters.
Bianco later falsely alleged she had a black eye caused by her mother, and Mrs Retallack gave her £50 and her address.
Ten days after she left college with a triple distinction diploma in April 2012, Bianco arrived at Sally’s home in Portscatho – saying she needed to stay for two days.
Mr Lee said: “She arrived with packed bags and Mrs Retallack took her in, initially for the weekend.”
She then invented emails from her parents which she sent to Mrs Retallack and Bianco stayed for months – while her former teacher helped her with university applications.
The well-meaning mum even forked out £750 in rent and equipment for her place at uni, and the court heard the family were “relieved” she had left in autumn 2012.
But after three weeks she came back after she phoned Mrs Retallack and said she had blood in her urine and collapsed arteries – in truth she was simply not enjoying her course.
Mrs Retallack felt compelled to let her return to the family home, where she stayed, before pretending to undergo a fake kidney removal in February 2013.
Mrs Retallack’s 83-year-old mother even helped look after the perfectly healthy woman, it was heard.
But when Sally – who the defendant started calling ‘mum’ – asked about her getting a job in March 2013, she said she then had a benign tumour on the other kidney.
Asking to be dropped off at hospital everyday, she would actually sit in the cafe in her pyjamas, buying dressings to used and forging medical letters.
Her deep-seated betrayal was backed up with faked hospital letters and she referred to medical staff by name – eventually announcing she had just months to live.
Mr Lee said: “Mrs Retallack drove her every day to the hospital and dropped her off at the reception in her pyjamas with a day bag, and every evening one of them would collect her.
“She said her condition was deteriorating – her cancer was malignant and growing – and eventually she told them she had three months to live and produced more forged letter and hospital forms to convince them.”
Fed-up with the impact the defendant had on family life, Mr Retallack eventually left his wife, it was heard.
Mr Lee said: “Mrs Retallack describes how they had become estranged as a result of the overwhelming effect of the defendant’s needs upon their family life, and, as she puts it, he had sought solace elsewhere.
“The defendant’s deceit though continued relentlessly.”
Pretending she was in constant pain, Bianco started sleeping in Mrs Retallack’s bed so Sally could care for her 24 hours a day.
But then Bianco set up Mrs Retallack with her consultant physician ‘John’, who she said had recently lost his wife.
In July 2013, Mrs Retallack and ‘John’ – who was actually Bianco in disguise – started emailing and their “friendship blossomed”.
The court heard he “seemed the perfect man” and their correspondence became “intimate” but when they arranged to meet he said he had lung cancer.
“In fact, all the emails and all this contact with the consultant were a complete fiction invented and maintained, day after day, by the defendant,” Mr Lee said.
Meanwhile Bianco told Mrs Retallack she wanted to die at home and she forked out £2,000 on a bucket list of activities, as well as a ‘final’ birthday party in August 2013.
Friends were duped by the compulsive liar and cried at the party, with one even bringing a locket for her to be buried wearing, the court heard.
But when Bianco threatened to take her own life, Mrs Retallack insisted they drive to see the consultant ‘John’.
As they drove, heartless Bianco asked Mrs Retallack to pull over and read her a text message saying he had died.
The court heard she even sent a devastated Mrs Retallack an invented death-bed love note and flowers which tragically arrived the day after he ‘passed away’.
Mr Lee said: “[She] showed her a text messages supposedly from a nurse to the effect: ‘John’s heart is going to fail…don’t think he’s going to make it…’ then a further message: ‘gone’.”
But the family grew suspicious and Mr Retallack confronted her but her lies were “so plausible and convincing” he “felt embarrassed” having questioned her.
During the course of his digging Mr Retallack tracked down Bianco’s father who “told him something” of the truth.
Then on August 12, 2013, after Bianco said her father was planning to take her home, Mrs Retallack went to hospital where she discovered the truth.
Staff at the renal ward in Royal Cornwall Hospital said they had no knowledge of the defendant.
On leaving the hospital she saw Bianco sitting in the cafe in her pyjamas and when she asked if she had made it all up she simply answered “yes”.
A month later the fraudster was questioned by police and confessed she had lied about her home life and medical conditions, forged letters and created a fake email account.
Distraught Mrs Retallack realised she had never looked under the dressings and had thought ‘John’ had a high-pitched voice.
She found receipts for dressings at her home, and a device which “made the noise that she claimed was the sound of her ribs cracking”, the court heard.