Susan Hughes sent £117,000 over a five-year period to her best friend and bridesmaid, Anna Bonner, believing she was helping her out but instead was being duped by her
Image: Lynda Roughley)
A “greedy, devious and manipulative” mum lied to her lovestruck best friend and bridesmaid for years to con her out of more than £100,000.
Anna Bonner, 40, begged Susan Hughes for enormous sums of money which she said was supporting a sick friend’s cancer treatment.
However, the money was actually being used to support her own lifestyle.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how a judge labeled the mum-of-three “greedy, devious and manipulative” as she jailed her on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, Liverpool Echo reported.
Charlotte Atherton, prosecuting, said Anna Bonner and Ms Hughes became friends in 1999 after meeting through their jobs at a care home. They grew up close, going on holidays together and living together for a period.
Bonner had Hughes as her chief bridesmaid at her wedding and the two regularly went on nights out together.
It was one of these nights which would form the basis of a fraud that would end up lasting years.
RJ’s, a club in New Brighton, Merseyside, was a place where the two women would often visit. It was where Ms Hughes would speak to a bouncer who she was romantically interested in.
The lies started when Bonner told her he was her uncle and, in 2015, told Ms Hughes that he had gone to prison and was being tormented for the clothes he was wearing. She asked Ms Hughes for some money to help him, which Ms Hughes provided.
Her lies became more devious and extravagant as she later told her best friend the man, who she said was called ‘Ste Lucas’, had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and needed experimental treatment that could only be provided in the US.
Ms Hughes, having believed her best friend was being truthful, began handing over money, sometimes up to £3,000 in a single month, to Bonner in the belief it was supporting the man’s medical treatment.
Instead, Bonner kept the money for herself, while also encouraging Ms Hughes to send letters, cards and gifts to the man, which she kept.
When police started to investigate Bonner’s fraud, in 2020 they tried to contact ‘Ste Lucas’ but he was never found. Ms Hughes sent just over £117,000 to Bonner’s accounts from her during the five year period her best friend from her duped her.
Ms Atherton said: “The defendant deliberately misled Ms Hughes into thinking that she was communicating with Ste and providing money for his medical rehabilitation when in fact the defendant was the one taking money for herself.
“The defendant used pressure techniques, applying deadlines to the payments of funds and used emotional pressure to suggest Ms Hughes may have a future with Ste if she paid over the money.”
As a result of the duplicitous lies and deception, Ms Hughes had to leave her job as a mental health nurse as a result of what Bonner had done to her and was now in crippling debt and had to move back in with her parents.
Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, said Bonner was remorseful and ashamed of what she had done, but probation officers had struggled to figure out what exactly motivated her.
He said: “It is in one way bizarre that she became involved in this, particularly in relation to somebody who she considered, and who considered her, to be a friend.”