This woman posed as a terminally-ill friend to get cancer treatment

By Litaletu Zidepa
14 March 2016

For most people, news that they had cancer would be devastating – but this woman craved it.

Cassandra Grant narrowly escaped serving a jail term after she posed as her terminally ill friend Clare Arrowsmith to receive care at home and in hospital, MailOnline reports. The 37-year-old, from Coombe Dingle, Bristol in the UK, managed to dupe staff at the St George Health Centre into caring for her in 2014 before she was moved to Frenchay Hospital to get treatment there. And it’s not the only time she’s done it.

In 2014, Cassandra was given a suspended sentence after she befriended cancer sufferers on Facebook, stealing their identities and changing their appointments to hijack their treatments.

But she flouted her sentence and stole Clare’s identity soon after, even arranging for a "Do Not Resuscitate" mark to be put on Clare’s file.

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Around the same time, Cassandra also posed as another terminally ill woman, Huleya Aleve, and tried to get treatment at Lodge Side Surgery in Bristol. Staff were not fooled however, and “care was not given”, prosecutor Mark Worsley said.

A few months later Cassandra pretended to have terminal cancer on Facebook and said she was collecting money for charity.

One naïve well-wisher was so convinced she sent Cassandra home-made greeting cards to sell.

Last week Cassandra admitted to three counts of fraud in Bristol Crown Court – one for impersonating Clare, another for impersonating a doctor to convince the National Health Service (NHS) she was Clare, and another for pretending to be Huleya Aleve.

In her defence, Cassandra’s lawyer Fiona Elder said she had a “factitious disorder” called Munchausen’s Syndrome and needed to continue with treatment.

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People with Munchausen’s Syndrome, she explained, pretend to be ill or make themselves sick for attention.

Cassandra was given a 12-month jail term, again suspended for two years.

Judge Euan Ambrose ruled, “Medical professionals do a difficult job, and they do it with skill and care, and that care that they gave to you was given freely but ultimately as a result of a deception.

“It is not difficult to see how upsetting that would have been for those who you deceived,” he said.

He ordered her to pay North Bristol Trust £372 (R8 000) compensation and £50 (R1 100) for breaching her previous suspended sentence.

She also had to pay £30 (R660) to the sender of greetings cards.

Sources: Bristol Post, Daily Mail, Mirror

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