Cancer con artist told her own parents she was dying

Cancer conwoman Hanna Dickenson has been jailed.

Cancer conwoman Hanna Dickenson has been jailed.

A woman who swindled $42,000 from family and friends by claiming she was dying from cancer but then spent the money partying overseas has been jailed.

Hanna Dickenson was 19 and leading a party lifestyle of drugs and booze in 2013 when she told her parents she was gravely ill with leiomyosarcoma, not responding to treatment at the Epworth and Peter MacCallum hospitals and needed money for overseas trips for treatment.

None of her claims were true.

Dickenson told her parents that without treatment in Thailand and New Zealand she would die within months, according to a summary released by Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Her hope, the court heard on Tuesday, was that her parents would give her money. But their pistachio farm near Swan Hill had financial problems and so they turned to friends to ask for help for their daughter.

In all, three family friends gave a combined $41,770 to Dickenson's parents in 2013 and 2014, and the money was in turn given to their daughter.

One donor had himself just been discharged from Peter MacCallum for cancer treatment, while another gave on four separate occasions.

Now 24, Dickenson was on Tuesday jailed for three months after pleading guilty to seven counts of obtaining property by deception for conduct magistrate David Starvaggi labelled "despicable". She is expected to appeal against her sentence.

Defence counsel Bev Lindsay, in calling for her client to be spared jail, said it was a terrible thing for Dickenson to have lied to her parents that she had cancer, but it was they who went to the wider community.

Mr Starvaggi replied: "When you say it's terrible, I think it's despicable.

"People's desire to assist and social trust has been breached. These are people who worked hard and dug into their own pockets," he said.

"She has engaged in conduct that tears to the very heartstrings of human nature."

One of the donors gave in the belief Dickenson required treatment in Indonesia, New Zealand and Germany. The prosecution summary says she travelled overseas, although it is not clear how far she went.

She later admitted to police she initially understood the money had come from her mother, but then realised it had been donated by family friends, although she used the money for trips regardless.

She told police she was suicidal and "in a very dark place" at the time, and using drugs and alcohol to cope.

Ms Lindsay submitted Dickenson had since turned her life around, had gained a job as a property manager, and that a jail term would send her backwards and was not in the community's interest.

The lawyer said Dickenson's offending was not on the scale of that of Belle Gibson, who built an empire on the lie that she beat cancer.

But Mr Starvaggi said jail was not an option for Gibson because she was prosecuted in the Federal Court (Gibson was last year fined $410,000, which she has not paid), but Dickenson's offending had to be denounced, and others deterred from similar conduct.

The magistrate likened the impact of Dickenson's wrongdoing to throwing something over a shoulder and not knowing who it would hit.

He also ordered Dickenson be put on a 12-month community corrections after jail, with conditions of doing unpaid community work and drug and mental-health treatment.

Outside court, Ms Lindsay said her client planned to appeal against her sentence. She has four weeks to lodge an appeal that would be heard in the County Court.