A CONWOMAN who defrauded her friends and colleagues of £20,000 by claiming she had terminal cancer has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Ursula Rose, a teaching assistant at Oasis Academy Shirley Park, was imprisoned last Friday after previously being found guilty of conning friends, who jumped to her aid by lending the money for what they believed to be emergency treatment.
A jury at Croydon Crown Court, which also heard Rose went on holiday after collecting her fraudulent cash, convicted the 42-year-old in February after it was revealed she exploited friends' goodwill and told lies about having six brain tumours to swindle the money.
While a teaching assistant in 2008-09 at St Thomas Becket Catholic Primary School, in South Norwood, Rose said she needed up to £40,000 for special drugs from the USA, as well as secialist operations in private hospitals.
Rose, of Westgate Road, South Norwood, even bought a wig in preparation for "hair loss" to deceive her peers, while forged letters were handed to Thomas Becket's head teacher detailing her "illness".
Rose's former colleague Iona Horwood was just one of the many friends she lied to, though Mrs Horwood told the Advertiser she could not revel in the sentencing.
She said: "I'm pleased justice was done, as what she did was an awful, terrible thing, but I also found it very sad. She didn't have any family there supporting her and it's sad for her own children.
"It never needed to get this far, if she had just been honest. But she couldn't possibly expect to walk after all that happened.
"It is definitely a relief that the whole thing is over and now we can all move on.
"But it was such an awful thing to do. So many of us actually do know people that have cancer, and we gave her money out of the kindness of or hearts.
"I hope that her time inside will help her to reflect on what she has done, because this is not the sort of message anyone should be giving out to their children."
Lesley Milner, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Rose was guilty of an "abuse of trust".
She added: "This was an appalling case in which Rose preyed on the kindness of her friends and took advantage of their sympathy. Her victims trusted her and even borrowed money from their own families to help her.
"We hope that the sentence she received today gives some sense of justice to those who were victims of her deception."
The fraud came to light when Thomas Becket head teacher Noel Campbell contacted Rose's doctor, who told him she did not have cancer but suffered from migraine-like headaches.