A FORMER resident of the Bradford district who pretended she had cancer in an “astonishingly unethical” fraud has been jailed for more than four years following an investigation by North Yorkshire Police.

Patricia Helen Robertshaw, who worked as an events manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research in Harrogate, put entries in her diary for fictitious hospital, chemotherapy and radiotherapy appointments, including at Airedale Hospital, Steeton, and took extended periods of leave, claiming to be recovering from life-saving surgery.

She maintained the deceit for around two years, fraudulently claiming sick pay and time off from her employer.

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Robertshaw, now of Gisburn Road in Barrowford, Lancashire, used to live in Hainworth, Keighley, when she was a lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, now Leeds Beckett University.

In January 2014 she was fined £275 by Skipton magistrates for running the flashing warning lights at Kildwick railway level crossing.

She admitted, in a letter to court, failing to comply with a red light traffic signal at the crossing on June 26, 2013. She was fined £170, had her licence endorsed with three penalty points and was ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim’s surcharge of £20.

She set up a company called Prevalence in March 2012 with a Leeds Met colleague which was dissolved in November 2013 and was later employed as head of Events, Alumni and Partners at the university.

The North Yorkshire Police detective who led the investigation said it was “the most abhorrent fraud” he had ever investigated in 25 years as a police officer.

The 42-year-old also lied about her qualifications, producing false certificates to get jobs, and submitted fake sick notes that were detected by the charity.

While working for a previous employer, she also forged leadership qualifications for 55 university students for work they completed under her guidance.

She pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and forging certificates when she appeared at York Crown Court in January.

A judge at the same court sent her to prison for four years and five months when she appeared for sentence today.

She was sentenced for four fraud counts, including £86,833 against the charity, and one count of forgery.

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Shane Martin, who led the case for North Yorkshire Police, said: “This is the most abhorrent fraud case I have investigated in 25 years of being a police officer.

“It’s absolutely incomprehensible that anyone could lie about having such a serious illness.

“Everything about the way Robertshaw conducted herself during this fraud is astonishingly unethical.

“It was a callous and calculated crime to try to trick her former employer – a charity that works for the good of real cancer patients and uses donations made in good faith to fund lifechanging services and research.

“Fortunately though, the charity detected that something was amiss and that led to an extensive fraud investigation by North Yorkshire Police.

“As our investigation progressed, we uncovered a level of deceit that is, frankly, shocking.

“Today’s sentence, however, ensures a truly immoral person has been dealt with justly.”