Patricia Helen Robertshaw, who worked as an events manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research in Harrogate
Patricia Helen Robertshaw, who worked as an events manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research in Harrogate

Woman ordered to repay £26,207 after defrauding Harrogate-based charity


A woman who defrauded a charity by pretending she had cancer has been ordered to repay £26,207.

Patricia Robertshaw, 42, of Barrowford, Lancashire, was jailed for four years and five months in March 2019, after she pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and forging certificates.

In January 2017, Robertshaw, who was working as an events manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research in Harrogate, claimed she had been diagnosed with cancer, and took sick leave, on full pay, to attend medical appointments which did not occur.

Earlier, in order to gain employment with the charity, Robertshaw claimed to have qualifications, including a PhD, and subsequently obtained a promotion based on this qualification, which was later found to be false.

During the investigation it was also discovered that Robertshaw had previously worked for a university and had issued fake qualification certificates to students there.

Speaking after Robertshaw was jailed at York Crown Court, 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 life-changing services and research.

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

During her employment with Yorkshire Cancer Research, Robertshaw received a promotion based on her qualifications and time off work for sickness on full pay.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) proceedings began following Robertshaw’s conviction, during which time the value of property she owned was identified as available assets for confiscation.

At a POCA hearing on Monday 10 June 2019 at York Crown Court, Mr Recorder Cook ordered that the defendant had benefitted from her offences to the value of £26,207.00.

A Confiscation Order was made for the defendant to pay this as compensation to Yorkshire Cancer Research within three months or face an additional 12 months’ imprisonment.

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