A best man who swindled a groom and his friends out of almost £8,000, failed to book flights for a stag do and lied about having terminal cancer has been jailed for 20 months.
Martyn Galvin, 30, was sentenced on Thursday by Teesside crown court and ordered to repay the stolen funds.
The stag party – the groom and 16 of his friends – only realised the deception when they got to Newcastle airport in August last year to find there were no flights or accommodation reserved in Prague. Galvin tried to blame the travel agent for getting the dates wrong.
The groom had asked Galvin – his closest friend – to be best man at his wedding before he had even proposed to his partner, prosecutor Jenny Haigh told the court.
He said Galvin, from Yarm in North Yorkshire, constantly distracted him from wedding plans with problems about payments for the stag dos in the Czech capital and a day at York races.
In a statement read out in court, the groom said: “When Martyn told me he had suspected cancer I was absolutely devastated for him and his family. I offered to take over the organising but he insisted, stating a groom should never have to organise his own stag do. How could I not feel guilty? I felt I had put too much on him.”
Galvin’s claim to have terminal bowel cancer was exposed as a lie.
“I was told by his mum that he did not have any sort of cancer and he had not left the house all week. I was beyond devastated,” the groom said. “I could not believe that Martyn had done this to me.”
The victim said he now felt like he was known as “the groom whose best man screwed his friends and family over money, and I’m ashamed”.
He added: “For months he conned me and a lot of our friends into thinking he was seriously ill for the plain reason of money. At no point did he hesitate in his scheme. He had six months to organise a stag do but he didn’t. He just took the money he was asking people for.”
Despite the emotional turmoil that Galvin inflicted, the groom said he did not let the scam spoil his wedding.
“I picked a new best man and the wedding day was the proudest, happiest day of my life with no mention of the existence of Martyn or the stag do,” he said.
“Since he confessed what he had done, I’ve not seen Martyn and I never want to see him again.”
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the recorder of Middlesbrough, told Galvin that his scam was “perhaps one of the nastiest and meanest I’ve encountered in my time involved in criminal law”.
“The fraud involved a string of quite dreadful lies, lies to your best friend, a man who entrusted in you the task and the honour of being his best man,” he added.
Duncan McReddie, defending, said Galvin had a long-running gambling addiction. His client was truly remorseful and he and his family would compensate all the victims in full.