How a cancer ‘lie’ ended love of a lifetime
THE former boyfriend and full-time carer of a Townsville woman accused of faking her terminal cancer has revealed he received death threats from the enraged community after her alleged scam came to light.
Brad Congerton is still trying to comprehend how the love of his life allegedly spent a year and a half deceiving those closest to her - and kicking himself for not realising what was going on.
Lucy Wieland this week faced court over fresh fraud charges, as police allege she faked terminal ovarian cancer to scam Townsville businesses and the community of nearly $55,000 via a GoFundMe page.
She has now also been charged with defrauding her ex-boyfriend Brad, who is with the Australian Defence Force and says he had no knowledge of Wieland's alleged scheming.
"Because of my work I was away quite a lot, all the bills for 'medical treatments' were getting emailed to Lucy and she was paying them," Brad told the Townsville Bulletin.
"I never questioned where it was going. As far as I was concerned my love was dying.
"When we got the six-month life expectancy and it escalated to a terminal illness, I was doing everything I could to save her."
Brad says he "exhausted all means of funds", using a few thousand dollars in personal savings, a $12,000 personal loan and two $5000 loans.
"When I couldn't get any more loans the GoFundMe was the last resort," Brad says.
"My father was in the process of withdrawing his super to give that to us, because our goal was to go to Germany for a $50,000 cancer treatment.
"We started to move away from the chemotherapy and mainstream remedies to fight it so we were looking at other options so we went down the naturopath way, gumbi gumbi, vitamin infusions, hemp oil, all that sort of stuff that all cost quite a bit of money."
Wieland and Brad had a joint bank account - a requirement to be recognised by Defence as a defacto relationship.
"And Lucy being a previous worker at the Defence Bank, she was good at money management and she had access to all the accounts," he says.
Lucy never allowed Brad to go with her to chemotherapy appointments.
"She said she didn't want me to see her like that. I'd drop her out the front of the cancer clinic then pick her up afterwards," he says.
"Other times she had major surgeries it was when I was away working. She was very supportive of me going to work as often as I could."
Brad says one of the things he is thankful for is the backing of his workplace.
"They did everything in their power to make sure we were comfortable," he said.
"Defence is very, very big on family and if something like that happens they'll do what they can to facilitate what needs to be done.
"They did a massive fundraiser and bake sale, passed around the bucket and supported us when it all happened; there was no prompting."
Asked how his workmates took the news of the allegations, Brad lets out a sigh.
"That whole week afterwards was honestly a blur," he says. "I was still trying to comprehend everything.
"I didn't believe the police when they told me it was all a lie."
But his mates rallied around him, ensuring he "wasn't going to do anything stupid" as his life crumbled around him.
"It's an implied task if someone is going through a hard time. The brotherhood and mateship; they were always there," Brad says.
Brad remembers vividly the day he learned of the allegations against Wieland.
"I was at work at the time. I got a phone call asking to go speak to my boss about something, and initially I thought it was about Lucy's health," he recalls.
"When I went up there I was met with a couple of detectives, a medical examiner and others and they introduced themselves, sat me down and said they needed to speak to me about a fraud accusation which had been put against myself and my partner Lucy in regards to a GoFundMe account."
The detectives asked Brad to accompany them down to the station for questioning, to which he says he co-operated fully.
"As soon as I heard someone saying we were being fraudulent with it, I saw red and was ready to fight anyone who thought there was a hole in the reason why we started the GoFundMe," Brad says.
"Creating that GoFundMe took a lot of pride for me to swallow. I've never had to ask anyone for money or handouts." Brad was questioned at the station for five hours in a room he never pictured being in only hours earlier; the last time he saw and spoke to Wieland.
"We had a morning routine we'd do. I'd sit her up in bed, get her some food, take her to the toilet, set up her biomat in bed to do three hours. Set up her nebuliser to make sure it had enough juice and sit her medication by her bed.
"I did that every day for her. That morning, I kissed her goodbye, said 'I love you' and went to work. That was the last time I spoke to her."
As the news was sinking in and Wieland was arrested by police, Brad quietly slipped into the home they'd shared, picked up his dogs and a few belongings and sent her a message.
He told her she had a week to stay in the house to hide from the public as "a safe place" as she had no family in Townsville, but that he wasn't ready to see her.
He's still not ready.
Brad met Wieland through the army about seven years ago when she was his banker.
"She was responsible for my finances," he says.
When she went through a divorce some years later, he became the sympathetic friend and her support network, which eventually led to more.
He thought their relationship was solid. They had moved out of their share house into their own place, battling Wieland's 'cancer' but still planning for their future.
One of the toughest pills to swallow is knowing that it's not just him who is affected by the allegations - but his own family, friends, workmates and community who helped fundraise for Wieland's treatments.
"I think mostly, for me, I haven't been able to thank the (Townsville) public and the rest of Australia and those overseas who tried to put in a helping hand for us," he said.
"It was absolutely incredible how many people got together for us … and I'm extremely sorry."
When Brad's five-year-old nephew was diagnosed with leukaemia in July last year, he hesitated at first in sharing the news and GoFundMe page.
"(These types of allegations) discourage people from donating to legitimate causes in the future," he says.
The pain hasn't eased 15 months later, and Brad says he still struggles with trust issues and admits his "love life has turned to s--t".
"I've tried to reconnect with women. I know this was a once off, but I have so much love to give and I want a family. (Lucy and I) were planning for kids. We were attempting to freeze eggs … that's $5000 I'll never see again."
He said despite getting close to a girl recently, it ultimately didn't go anywhere because of his insecurities.
"I'm still learning how to trust … I don't have the ability to believe anything and I question everyone - not just females but males as well," Brad says.
"I overthink. I overanalyse everything. I look at worst case scenarios and I question everything."
But for the most part, he's trying to put the ordeal behind him - but he knows it means potentially having to face Wieland again if the case goes to trial.
"I just want to move on with my life," Brad says.
Wieland is out on bail, with court documents listing her address as Agnes Water, a coastal town in Gladstone.
The case will be mentioned again on January 29 but her appearance is excused.
Wieland is expected to be committed to a higher court for the first set of charges on the same day.