‘Sickening’: Leeds ex-soldier Simon Buckden jailed over cancer fundraising lies

SIMON Buckden, the Leeds ex-soldier who lied about having cancer, was condemned today as “sickening”, as he began a 16-month jail term for fraud.

Buckden was handed the sentence after pleading guilty to six charges of fraud during his trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Simon Buckden.

Simon Buckden.

He conned victims into giving him money and providing services free of charge after they believed his false claims about suffering from cancer.

Buckden also lied about his army career as he campaigned to raise awareness of post traumatic stress disorder.

Today, Andy McNab, the former SAS soldier and best-selling author, said the disgraced soldier’s actions had betrayed other servicemen and women, and veterans.

Mr McNab said: “It doesn’t matter whether he is claiming to be SAS or anybody in the Services, the fact he was using other people’s courage, experience and tragedy to gain sympathy and attention is sickening.”

Buckden, 44, claimed he suffered from the condition due to the horrors experienced while fighting for his country.

In reality, he worked as a military clerk and never saw any action on the front line.

Buckden also claimed to have served with the SAS.

He turned up at Remembrance Day services wearing a sand-coloured beret, as worn by members of the special forces

Buckden was invited to take part in the 2012 Olympic torch relay through Leeds after building up a reputation as a heroic fundraiser and campaigner.

During that event Buckden got down on one knee and proposed to his then girlfriend, Louisa Rodrigues.

Miss Rodrigues and another former partner, Susanna Domeniconi, told the trial how Buckden made claims about having rectal cancer days after they ended relationships with him.

Police later obtained Buckden’s medical records and there was no evidence of him ever being diagnosed with cancer.

Both women described in court how Buckden claimed to have endured harrowing experiences while serving his country in both Gulf wars, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Rwanda.

He claimed to have been left traumatised after uncovering mass graves in Bosnia, cradling a dying child in his arms, being shot at by a sniper and having to shoot his friend in the kneecap in order to infiltrate the IRA.

The fraud charges relate to people providing money and practical help after hearing of Buckden’s battles with cancer and post traumatic stress disorder.

The offers of help came after Buckden announced plans to run 100 marathons in 100 weeks for charity.

The total value of the offending is £7,700.

They relate to him making false claims about medical conditions in order to obtain cash, attend therapy sessions and having a film made about him.

Those duped by Buckden include Richard McCann, son of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe’s first murder victim, who allowed him to attend a public speaking skills and presentation day without paying.

Film maker Mark Curry agreed to make a promotional film about Buckden’s fundraising campaign free of charge.

He also lied to behavioural coach Philip Lee in order to attend courses.

Buckden told lies to Kimm Fearnley which resulted in him receiving a therapy session without paying.

Buckden also received sums of £2,000 and £1,591 from businessmen Geoff Shepherd and Gareth Boot who offered help after after being inspired by Buckden’s campaign.

The offending took place between April 1 2012 and July 31 2012.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Swift, who led the investigation, said: “Simon Buckden created an elaborate fantasy image of himself as a battle-scarred SAS hero and cancer sufferer to exploit the goodwill and support of a number of people over a long period of time.

“He lied repeatedly, not only to those closest to him but to genuine survivors of trauma and also to the media and the wider public through the extensive publicity he sought to satisfy his own self-importance. He seems to have revelled in the sympathy and status that those lies afforded him.

“The monetary gains he made from this deception were not particularly significant but the sense of betrayal his victims and others have felt has been enormous. We hope they will take some comfort from seeing him now have to answer for his actions.”