Mother reveals woman stole money reaised for her dying daughter

Grieving mother reveals how ‘kind stranger’ who raised funds for her cancer-stricken daughter, 2, claimed to be her SISTER, turned up at her little girl’s deathbed and then pocketed the money herself

  • Carla Dawson, 36, from Nottingham, says Chanel Bailey, 26, ‘wormed her way; in
  • Carla’s daughter Jorja diagnosed with malignant stage 4 pineoblastoma in 2016
  • Chanel offered to help and took part in a sponsored walk and a head shave 
  • Pleaded guilty to theft and fraud at Nottingham Crown Court this week 

A bereaved mother has spoken of her distress after a stranger offered to raise funds for her dying daughter, before stealing the cash for herself.

Carla Dawson, 36, from Nottingham, was desperately trying to raise money to save the life of her two-year-old daughter, Jorja-Rose, when Chanel Bailey contacted her and offered to help.

Bailey took part in a sponsored walk and a head shave but then kept all the proceeds for herself. 

She claimed to be Carla’s sister, and later told hospital staff she was a close family friend, even turning up in the last days of Jorja’s life.

This week Bailey, 26, was jailed for two years and three months after admitting theft and fraud. A judge slammed her for targeting ‘vulnerable’ people using ‘animal cunning.’ 

Carla and her husband, Lee, from Nottingham, were desperately raising money to save the life of their two-year-old daughter, Jorja-Rose

In April 2016, Jorja was diagnosed with a malignant stage 4 pineoblastoma, and underwent eight months of chemotherapy and stem cell treatment

Mother of six, Carla said: ‘I still cannot believe that anyone could be so cruel and heartless. Chanel wormed her way into my life. 

‘I’m glad she’s gone to prison and I hope this gives her to change her ways.’

Carla and her husband, Lee, now run the Jorja-Rose Foundation, a charity which aims to raise awareness and provides practical support to families in hospital.

Carla said: ‘The foundation is our way of making sure that Jorja lives on and that we are doing something positive in her memory. She was such a brave, smiley little girl and I want to make a difference in her name.’

Jorja was the youngest of Carla and Lee’s six children and was perfectly healthy when she was born in January 2015. In March 2016, she began vomiting in the mornings and losing her balance a little.

This week Chanel Bailey, 26, pleaded guilty to theft and fraud at Nottingham Crown Court and was jailed for two years and three months

Carla added: ‘I was back and forth from the GP, the walk in centre and the hospital. They gave me antibiotics and said perhaps she had an ear infection. In the end, I pleaded with them for help. I knew it was something more.’

In April 2016, on Carla’s 30th birthday, Jorja had a brain scan which confirmed she had a tumour. Further tests showed she had a malignant stage 4 pineoblastoma, a rare and aggressive type of tumour.

Jorja underwent eight months of chemotherapy and stem cell treatment, before ringing the bell for the all-clear in February 2017.

Carla explained: ‘The chemo made her very sick but she was so brave. She would carry on playing and smiling even though she was ill. She was like a bright light in our lives.

‘When we took her home, after her treatment ended, we really believed it was over.’

Carla and Jorja pictured after the mother-of-six shaved off her hair to raise funds for her daughter’s life-saving treatment

Carla with Jorja in hospital. The youngster was Carla and Lee’s youngest child and they were devastated when she passed away aged two years and nine months

The family went on holiday and Carla and Lee got married. But the day before the wedding, Jorja, a bridesmaid, said her head was hurting. Five days later, the family was devastated to learn the cancer had come back.

Carla said: ‘I found a trial in Germany and there was also a specialist hospital in the US. We started raising money for treatment and people were so generous.’

That’s when Carla was contacted by Chanel Bailey, offering to help. ‘I was contacted by Chanel Bailey who was really sympathetic and said she wanted to help. I had shaved my head for Macmillan weeks earlier and she said she would shave her head also, for our fundraising. She also came to a sponsored walk.’

Lee and Jorja in hospital during one of her many treatments amid her 18-month battle with a tumour

But at the walk, Chanel told organisers that she was Carla’s sister. Alarm bells rang amongst her friends, who knew she was an only child.

Carla added: ‘A few of my friends had their doubts about Chanel but I just thought she was a bit odd, a bit forward maybe. I didn’t want to judge her. Besides, my focus was Jorja and I had no time for anything else.’

Chanel then began telling people she was a close family friend and concerns were raised that money from the sponsored walk had vanished.

Carla and Lee with their family, including siblings, Corey, 19, Demi, 17, Jaydan, 14, Maximus, 10 and Jaimee-Leigh, with Jorja sitting on Carla’s knee

‘I couldn’t begin to think about that. Jorja was very poorly by this stage. She was in hospital, with fluid on her brain, and needed surgery. She was due to start radiotherapy, but she wasn’t well enough,’ she said.

‘I was sitting by her bedside one afternoon when Chanel just appeared next to me. I was so taken aback; I didn’t want to be rude, but I felt it deeply inappropriate for her to be there. I hardly knew her. 

‘She asked me if she could take some photos and I said no. I felt that she had come to gawp at Jorja and I asked her to leave. I later found out she’d told the nurses she was a family member. It was a sick thing to do. I was under so much pressure at that time, and she just added to it. It was so invasive. It’s that, rather than the money, which upsets me the most.’

Jorja rang the bell for the all-clear in February 2017. Carla explained: ‘We took her home, after her treatment ended, we really believed it was over’

But the tumour returned and Jorja became very ill, needed a shunt fitted to her brain, before she passed away in October 2017

Jorja went on to have a shunt fitted to her brain but sadly, she never recovered and passed away on October 21 2017, aged just two years and nine months.

Her family, including siblings, Corey, 19, Demi, 17, Jaydan, 14, Maximus, 10 and Jaimee-Leigh, were heartbroken.

Carla remembered: ‘I posted a photo of Jorja after she had passed on my private Facebook account and later learned Chanel had reposted the photos as if they were her own, writing that she was crying.

‘She then messaged me asking why she was not allowed to come to the funeral. It really was the last thing I could cope with.’

Following Jorja’s death, her family launched a foundation to raise awareness of brain tumours in children and also to provide support to other families in hospital. They currently offer toiletry packs to families. In the future, they hope to buy a holiday home for families living with childhood brain tumours.

Since Jorja’s death Carla and Lee have formed The Jorja-Rose Foundation to raise awareness and fund research for childhood brain rumours and offer practical support to suffering families

Then in 2019, Carla was contacted by the police, who were investigating Chanel Bailey. She was later charged with stealing the money she had raised for Jorja’s treatment.

Carla said: ‘I was stunned to find out she had also conned another family, who had also lost a child. I want people to be aware who she is, so that she can’t do it to anyone else.

‘But I also want to thank the thousands of genuine people who donated their time and their money to our foundation. Thanks to them, our daughter’s name lives on.’

Nottingham Crown Court heard this week that Chanel Bailey, 26, had stolen from two grieving mothers on two separate occasions by collecting donations under false pretenses.

The court heard Bailey failed to hand over cash she’d collected at a sponsored walk. She also announced plans to shave her head to raise money for the same cause and again failed to hand over donations.

Ben Blackner and his partner, Natalie Thompson, attend Nottingham Crown Court for the sentencing of Chanel Bailey, who were also victims of her deceit

Bailey appeared at Nottingham Crown Court for sentencing having previously pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and theft. She was jailed for two years and three months.

Inspector Christopher Jury, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘Chanel Bailey took advantage of her victims’ pain and the charitable spirit of many people, just so she could treat herself on other people’s hard-earned money.

The deception was cunning and manipulative and I am pleased the courts recognised this. There is absolutely no excuse for her actions and she is deserving of the prison sentence she will now have to serve.’

Ben Blackner and partner, Natalie Thompson lost their daughter Sofia Blackner when she was nearly 12 weeks old and Bailey took advantage of their suffering too. During Bailey’s sentencing a judge described her as ‘animal cunning’

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