‘Chanel knew my two-year-old son was dying. She used it to betray us in the worst possible way’
A bereaved mother has opened up about her painful betrayal by a stranger who offered to raise money for her dying daughter only to steal the money for herself. Mum-of-six Carla Dawson was desperate to raise money to save the life of her two-year-old daughter, Jorja-Rose, who was suffering from a brain tumor when stranger Chanel Bailey offered to help.
Bailey took part in a sponsored walk and a head shave, but kept the proceeds for herself. To the organizers, she claimed to be Carla’s sister, and later to be a close family friend, even showing up at the hospital in the last days of Jorja’s life.
After the baby girl died, Bailey took sensitive photos from Carla’s Facebook page and posted them as her own. This week Bailey, 26, was jailed for two years and three months after admitting theft and fraud.
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A judge slammed her for targeting ‘vulnerable’ people using ‘animal trickery’. Carla, 36, said: ‘I still can’t believe anyone could be so cruel and heartless. Chanel slipped into my life; she even showed up at the hospital when Jorja was very ill and told a nurse that she was a member of the family.
“She appeared at Jorja’s bedside and I was amazed. It was so overwhelming. It is this, rather than the money, that bothers me the most.
“I’m glad she went to prison and I hope it will allow her to change her ways.” Carla and her husband, Lee, now run the Jorja Rose Foundation – an association which aims to raise awareness and provide concrete support to hospitalized families.
“The foundation is our way of making sure that Jorja lives on and that we do something positive in her memory,” Carla said. “She was such a brave and smiling little girl and I want to make a difference on her behalf.”
Jorja was the youngest of Carla and Lee’s six children and was completely healthy when she was born in January 2015. In March 2016 she started throwing up in the morning and losing her balance a bit.
Carla explained: ‘I was going back and forth between the GP, the walk-in center and the hospital. They gave me antibiotics and told me she might have an ear infection. Finally, I begged them to help me. I knew it was something more.
In April 2016, on Carla’s 30th birthday, Jorja underwent a brain scan which confirmed that she had a tumour. Further tests showed she had stage 4 malignant pineoblastoma, a rare and aggressive type of tumour.
Jorja underwent eight months of chemotherapy and stem cell treatment, before ringing the bell for the green light in February 2017.
“The chemo made her very sick, but she was so brave,” Carla recalls. “She kept playing and smiling even though she was sick. She was like a shining light in our lives.
“When we brought her home, after her treatment was over, we really thought it was over.”
The family went on vacation, where Carla and Lee got married. But the day before the wedding, Jorja, a bridesmaid, said she had a headache. Five days later, the family was devastated to learn that the cancer had returned.
Carla said: ‘I found a trial in Germany and there was also a specialist hospital in the US. We started fundraising for the treatment and people were so generous. I was contacted by Chanel Bailey who was really friendly and said she wanted to help.
“I had shaved my head for Macmillan weeks earlier and she said she would shave her head too, for our fundraiser. She also came to a sponsored walk.
But during the march, Chanel told organizers she was Carla’s sister. Alarm bells rang among her friends, who knew that Carla was an only child.
Carla said: “A few of my friends had my doubts about Chanel but I just thought she was a little weird, a little forward maybe. I didn’t want to judge her. Also, I was focusing on Jorja and I didn’t have time for anything else.
Chanel then began telling people that she was a close friend of the family and concerns were raised that the sponsored walk money had gone missing. Carla continued, “I couldn’t begin to think about it. Jorja was very bad at this point. She was in the hospital, with fluid in her brain, and needed surgery. She was supposed to start radiation therapy, but she wasn’t doing well enough.
“I was sitting by her bedside one afternoon when Chanel appeared next to me. I was so surprised; I didn’t mean to be rude, but I found it deeply inappropriate for her to be there. I barely knew her .
“She asked me if she could take pictures and I said no. I felt she had come to admire Jorja and I asked her to leave. I found out later that she had told the nurses that she was a family member. It was a sick thing to do. I was under so much pressure at the time, and she only added to it.
Jorja had a shunt installed in her brain but never recovered and died on October 21, 2017 – aged just two years and nine months. Her family, including her siblings, Corey, 19, Demi, 17, Jaydan, 14, Maximus, 10, and Jaimee-Leigh, were heartbroken.
Carla said: “I posted a photo of Jorja after she passed on my private Facebook account and later learned that Chanel had reposted the photos as if they were her own, writing that she was crying. She then messaged me asking why she wasn’t allowed to come to the funeral.It was really the last thing I could deal with.
After Jorja’s death, her family started a foundation to raise awareness of brain tumors in children and also to provide support to other hospitalized families. They are currently offering toiletry bags for families. In the future, they hope to purchase a vacation home for families with childhood brain tumours.
In 2019, Carla was contacted by the police, who were investigating Chanel Bailey. She was later accused of stealing the money she collected for Jorja’s treatment.
Carla said: “I was stunned to hear that she also scammed another family, who also lost a child. I want people to know who she is so she can’t do it to someone. another. But I also want to thank the thousands of genuine people who give their time and money to our foundation. Thanks to them, our daughter’s name lives on.
Nottingham Crown Court heard this week that Chanel Bailey, 26, robbed two grieving mothers twice by collecting donations under false pretences. The court heard Bailey failed to hand over the money she raised on a sponsored walk.
She also announced plans to shave her head to raise money for the same cause and again failed to deliver donations. Bailey appeared at Nottingham Crown Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation and theft.
She was imprisoned for two years and three months. Inspector Christopher Jury, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘Chanel Bailey has taken advantage of the pain of her victims and the charitable spirit of many people, just so she can indulge herself with other people’s hard-earned money .
“The deception was cunning and manipulative and I’m glad the courts have recognized that. There is absolutely no excuse for her actions and she deserves the jail time she will now have to serve.”