First published on Thursday 08 April 2004: Fake cancer plea man escapes jail term by Stuart Arnold
A MAN has escaped jail after he pretended his son had cancer in a bid to persuade football clubs to part with valuable memorabilia.
Ian Bussey, 37, of Webb Close, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, wrote to 92 league clubs across England and Wales claiming his son had cancer and asking for their support.
In his letter he said he intended to auction off any items donated in order to pay for a "final holiday" to Disneyland.
But Teesside Crown Court heard the letter was a fake and there was no son suffering from cancer.
The con fooled 28 clubs into sending items, including Middlesbrough FC, which sent a football yearbook, Sunderland FC, which sent a limited edition print of the Stadium of Light, and York City and Newcastle United, which both sent signed footballs.
Bussey, who said he ran a business buying and selling memorabilia over the Internet, told police that he did not intend to sell the items and had wanted to expose how easy it was for unscrupulous dealers to take advantage of football clubs.
Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Bussey was exposed when police carried out a raid on his home on October 30, 2002, and found the letters on a computer.
Officers then recovered all of the items that had been sent in response to the fake cancer appeal.
Bussey, who at the time of the offences was said to be suffering from manic depression, pleaded guilty to four specimen charges of forgery.
Judge Les Spittle said Bussey had just avoided jail as there was no apparent financial gain made from his actions. He was sentenced to 150 hours' community punishment order.