A best man has been jailed for 20 months for cheating a groom and his friends to the tune of £8,000 ($10,500). Marty Galvin, 30, pocketed the money to book flights for a stag party in Prague, Czech Republic and also lied that he was suffering from cancer.

He was sentenced on Thursday at the Teesside Crown court and was ordered by the judge to repay the money to his friends. As the wedding date approached, he avoided meetings to discuss the stag party and claimed that he had terminal cancer and had to visit hospitals. The friends realised something was wrong only after reaching Newcastle airport as there were no tickets booked to Prague and no hotel room reservations made. When they enquired, Galvin blamed the travel agent for getting the dates wrong.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told the court that the groom, Dino Carter, had asked Galvin, his best friend to be the best man at his wedding even before he proposed to his partner. In a statement read in court, the groom said: "When Martyn told me he had suspected cancer I was absolutely devastated for him and his family. I offered to take over the organising but he insisted, stating a groom should never have to organise his own stag do. How could I not feel guilty? I felt I had put too much on him."

Carter said further, "I was told by his mum that he did not have any sort of cancer and he had not left the house all week. I was beyond devastated. I could not believe that Martyn had done this to me.

"For months he conned me and a lot of our friends into thinking he was seriously ill for the plain reason of money. At no point did he hesitate in his scheme. He had six months to organise a stag do but he didn't. He just took the money he was asking people for."

The judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, while sentencing Galvin to 20 months prison said: "This fraud is perhaps one of the nastiest and meanest I've encountered. The fraud involved a string of dreadful lies – lies to your best friend, a man who entrusted in you the task and the honour of being his best man. To lie as you did so brazenly, so persistently and in such detail about your health, only you know how you could do that. You were spending extravagantly, flashing the cash on yourself."

The groom said that he did not let the fraud spoil his wedding. "I picked a new best man and the wedding day was the proudest, happiest day of my life with no mention of the existence of Martyn or the stag do.

"Since he confessed what he had done, I've not seen Martyn and I never want to see him again."