A FORMER military clerk lied about having cancer and suffering from trauma as a result of serving on the front line in war zones across the world, a fraud trial heard.
A jury was told Simon Buckden claimed to have served with the SAS and was invited to take part in the 2012 Olympic torch relay through Leeds after building up a reputation as a heroic fundraiser and campaigner.
Leeds Crown Court heard people provided money and practical help after hearing of his cancer diagnosis and being inspired by story.
Buckden, 44, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court where he pleads not guilty to six charges of fraud.
Craig Hassall, prosecuting, told the jury the case was about Buckden making false claims to have cancer.
He said Buckden is a former member of the army and for some years campaigned for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The jury heard Buckden ran several marathon and raised funds on behalf of Help for Heroes and various other charities.
He also worked as a motivational speaker, had newspaper articles written about him and maintained a high profile on social media.
Mr Hassall said: “The defendant has spoken and written in detail about his experiences growing up in care and during his service in the army.
“He had described being physically and emotionally abused by his parents, careworkers and the police.
“In the army he has described tours of duty to Bosnia, Northern Ireland, both Gulf wars and Rwanda.
“He has told other veterans that he served with the SAS and has attended events wearing medals and an SAS beret.”
The prosecutor said Buckden’s army records make no reference to service in either of Gulf wars, Rwanda or Northern Ireland.
He added: “The section which records any medals which a soldier is entitled to wear is blank. There is no mention of any service with the SAS.”
The court heard Buckden was discharged from the army in 2001 due to depression.
Mr Hassall continued: “The army records make clear that the defendant was a military clerk and there is no reference to frontline active service.”
The trial heard Buckden, of Landseer Way, Bramley, Leeds, claimed to have been diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
Mr Hassall said some people were told he had bowel cancer and others that he had rectal cancer and claimed to be undergoing treatment.
He told the jury: “In light of what he said about his diagnosis, people were, naturally, moved by his story and moved to try to help him.
“Many of the witnesses in this case provided either money or practical help to the defendant’s case, as a result of hearing about his diagnosis.”
The court heard Buckden received training from a veteran’s mental health charity called Talking2Minds after claiming he had been in the SAS and to have suffered from Gulf War Syndrome.
He is also alleged to have received free sessions with a behavioural coach after claiming to have been part of the Royal Signals.
The jury heard Buckden was also allowed to attend a public speaking course free of charge in June 2012 by Richard McCann, then president of the Professional Speakers Association for the North of England.
The prosecutor said: “At the course, the defendant spoke about his experiences in the army when he watched his friends die and watching children killed with their blood being spattered on him. The defendant also made a reference to suffering from cancer of the course.”
The court heard one of the attendees of the course offered and provided him with free treatment at her yoga and complimentary therapy business after hearing him speak.
Mr Hassall said a local businessman gave Buckden £2,000 in July 2012 so he could go on holiday as he felt he deserved a break from his fundraising activities.
When Buckden went to visit him at his office he brought his Olympic torch with him.
The court heard film maker Mark Curry contacted Buckden after seeing a request on business networking site LinkedIn to promote his work.
Mr Curry agreed to make the film for free.
Mr Hassall said the final complainant was Geoff Shepherd, the chairman of a business networking organisation called the Yorkshire Mafia.
He agreed to donate the proceeds of one of their events to Buckden’s efforts to set up a social enterprise called Positive Action for PTSD.
The court heard Buckden also lied to girlfriends about suffering from cancer.
Mr Hassall told the jury of a description of his time in the army he gave to then partner Susanna Ravenhill in 2009.
He said: “He described running through the snow while being shot at and having cradled a dying child in his arms.
“He said that he had worked undercover in Northern Ireland to infiltrate the IRA and had had to shoot one of his friends in the kneecap in order to join the IRA.
“He claimed to have worked in Rwanda but could not talk about it because it was top secret.”
In May 2012 he told another partner, Louisa Rodrigues, that he had rectal cancer and was undergoing radiotherapy.
Mr Hassall said: “In May 2014, Louise Rodrigues ended her relationship with the defendant. Shortly afterwards the defendant posted on social media that he was at Leeds General Infirmary and had received some bad test results.
He added: “The police have obtained the defendant’s medical records and there is no mention whatsoever within them of him being diagnosed with cancer.”
The trial continues.