A former military clerk who lied about having cancer and serving in the SAS to fleece victims out of money and services worth more than £8,000 ($9,910) has been jailed for 16 months. Fantasist Simon Buckden conned well-wishers by claiming he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after seeing active duty in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Rwanda.
The 44-year-old even carried the Olympic torch ahead of the London 2012 Games and received a £2,000 holiday after lying about his suffering. Buckden was handed his sentence at Leeds Crown Court having eventually pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud midway through his trial.
Buckden claimed to be running 100 marathons in 100 weeks, to raise awareness of PTSD, when midway through the feat he claimed he was diagnosed with rectal cancer. He also fabricated stories from his fake military career, including holding a dying child in his arms.
In fact, Buckden had carried out one overseas deployment, to Bosnia, but had never experienced front line service. He featured in local and national newspapers detailing his battle with PTSD and cancer.
Judge Christopher Batty told Buckden: "You are a dishonest and manipulative man. Over a period from at least 2009, you developed a fictitious persona, a dishonest life history, in order to advance your own prospects in life.
"The disrespect you have shown to those who have suffered cancer and to those who have lost their battle with it is quite breathtaking."
One of Buckden's victims was therapist Kimm Fearnley, who was conned out of services worth about £240. She said: "He preyed on people who were kind and generous. My daughter died of cancer and to actually have somebody pretending to have cancer is abhorrent."
Ex-serviceman Phil Lee, who was also a victim of Buckden, said his actions "deeply offended" genuine veterans. Buckden was given a restraining order banning him from contacting prosecution witnesses involved in the case or making any comment about them on social media.