A cancer charity employee who cheated her employers out of nearly £87,000 with bogus claims she had cancer and a doctorate has been jailed. 

Patricia Helen Robertshaw, 42, got her post as events manager with Yorkshire Cancer Research with bogus certificates claiming she had two masters degrees and a doctorate, Philip Standfast, prosecuting, told York Crown Court. 

She then provided forged sick notes from a hospital and GP surgery and bogus accounts of undergoing radiotherapy and an operation to claim £19,300 in sick pay. 

While on sick leave, she applied for two more jobs with the fake university diplomas. 

In a previous job before joining the Harrogate-based charity, she had forged worthless certificates for 55 university students for their studies. 

“I am sure you presented as a well qualified and convincing applicant," Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told her. 

"You were in fact wholly bogus.

“Embedded in the charity as you were, you better than anyone would have known the good that money could have done.”

Robertshaw, of Guisburn Road, Barrowford, near Burnley, pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud and one of forgery and was jailed for four years and five months. 

For her, Catherine Silverton said: "She does express her deep regret and remorse for the commission of these offences. She really doesn’t understand why she has committed them.”

She had recently been diagnosed as suffering from a borderline personality disorder and was emotionally "unstable". 

Speaking after the case, Det Con Shane Martin, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This is the most abhorrent fraud case I have investigated in 25 years of being a police officer.

“It’s absolutely incomprehensible that anyone could lie about having such a serious illness. 

“Everything about the way Robertshaw conducted herself during this fraud is astonishingly unethical.

“As our investigation progressed, we uncovered a level of deceit that is, frankly, shocking.

“Today’s sentence, however, ensures a truly immoral person has been dealt with justly.”

Arfaq Nabi of the CPS said: "This was a  calculated and heartless fraud. 

"Robertshaw elicited sympathy from her colleagues in an entirely heartless way, claiming to be suffering from the very disease the charity itself was campaigning for."

Robertshaw started working for the charity in September 2015 and by autumn 2016 was claiming she herself had cancer.

Mr Standfast said she got a £10,000 salary increase because of her bogus certificates and the job partially as a result of appearing well qualified.  

In total including sick pay, while working for the charity, she was paid £86,833. 

She blocked attempts by the charity to check her fake cancer claims by not allowing them access to her medical records, he said.

When she was summonsed to a disciplinary hearing after concerns were raised about her integrity and conduct, she didn't attend, claiming she had been admitted to hospital and a week later sent an email asking about her sick pay entitlement.

She was offered a £50,000 a year job she applied for while on sick leave but the offer was withdrawn when the council concerned contacted Yorkshire Cancer Research for a reference. 

She withdrew the other application, said Mr Standfast. 

Thirty-six of the 55 students that got worthless certificates had accepted compensation from the university involved, which could be sued by the rest.