Simon Buckden trial: Former fiancee tells court of marriage proposal during Olympic torch relay through Leeds

Simon Buckden carrying the Olympic torch.
Simon Buckden carrying the Olympic torch.

The former fiancee of a man on trial accused of lying about having cancer told a jury of the moment he proposed to her as he was carrying the Olympic torch through Leeds.

Louisa Rodrigues gave evidence at the trial of former soldier Simon Buckden, where he is accused of six offences of fraud.

It is alleged Buckden, 44, was provided with money and practical help by people inspired by his story after hearing of his diagnosis and fundraising efforts.

The trial has heard how Buckden was invited to take part in the 2012 Olympic torch relay after building up a high profile through his pledge to run 100 marathons for charity.

Miss Rodrigues told the court how she had first met Mr Buckden after following him on Twitter just weeks before the event.

Describing the moment Buckden proposed, she said: “He came down with the torch and he asked me to marry him.

“I remember thinking ‘this is really quick because we have only been together seven weeks’ but I thought ‘I really love him’ and said yes.”

Miss Rodrigues said she moved in with Buckden and quit her job to work for him soon after.

She described how she first met Buckden after following him on Twitter and sending him a message to say how she was inspired by what he was doing.

Miss Rodrigues said Buckden told her later in their relationship that he had been to the doctor and had been given the all clear from rectal cancer.

The trial at Leeds Crown Court has heard how Buckden has also claimed to have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of serving with the army in warzones across the world, including with the SAS.

The jury has been told police obtained medical records which show no mention of him ever being diagnoses with cancer. His military record states that he served as military clerk and saw no action on the frontline during his time in the army.

Miss Rodrigues said Buckden had told her he had served in both Gulf wars, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Rwanda.

She described how Buckden had told her that he had been left traumatised after uncovering mass graves in Bosnia and watching a child die in his arms.

Miss Rodrigues said their relationship ended in May 2014 and days later he sent out social media messages saying that he was at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

She told the court: “I rang the LGI and they had no record of Simon Buckden being in the LGI.

“Simon replied to my calls and turned up at my house and said he had been at the LGI.

“I tried to challenge him but I just got bombarded by him saying he had had these tests.”

Miss Rodrigues said Buckden put messages on Facebook a week later saying he was at the Christie Hospital - a specialist cancer hospital.

She added: “My friend said ‘why don’t you ring up Christie Hospital.’

“I must have rang eight or nine times and tried different departments and they said ‘I have never heard of him, we have never heard of him.’”

Prosecutor Craig Hassall asked Miss Rodrigues if she had always believed Buckden about having cancer.

She replied: “When we spilt up people said to me that they did not believe he had cancer.

“My thoughts on it was that I have seen him coughing up blood and I have seen him tired. I did not think anyone would lie about that.”

Miss Rodrigues said when she challenged Buckden on another occasion about not believing he had been in hospital he had given her three different explanations.

She said: “After I challenged him on it he said ‘I don’t have cancer, but I do have some serious health problems.”

Buckden, 44, of Landseer Way, Bramley, pleads not guilty to six offences of fraud.

The trial continues.