A COUPLE who raised more than €400,000 for treatment for their sick daughter – but only spent €20,000 on medical expenses – have been sent to prison in Spain.
Fernando Blanco and his wife Margarita Garau were found guilty of using the cash to fund their lavish lifestyle including property, cars and luxury watches.
Celebrities had been drawn into the fundraising efforts and more than €420,000 was raised in donations. A Facebook page and Twitter account were also set up to support the fund.
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Blanco had claimed that expensive operations had been carried out in France and America – but could not provide any evidence to support his claim, and the hospitals he named in Houston did not exist.
The court also heard that neither the girl nor Blanco held a passport – making the supposed travel to the United States impossible.
The young girl, now aged 14, does suffer from a genetic disorder, trichothiodystrophy, but the court found that the parents had deliberately exaggerated her condition in order to solicit donations for ‘invented’ medical treatments.
There is no cure for the condition although its symptoms can be managed.
Symptoms can include sensitivity to light, intellectual and developmental problems, a tendency to succumb to recurring infections and an increased chance of dying early but the court found the girl was not in any immediate danger, contrary to her father’s claims.
Fernando Blanco was sentenced to six years in prison and Marga Garau faces three and a half years in jail.