Lying best man spends £8k he collected for Prague stag do on himself, leaving group stranded at airport
MANY grooms feel understandably anxious at the prospect of choosing the best man for their wedding.
Will he reveal an unmentionable incident in the groom’s past? Will he insult the bride’s mother or pester the bridesmaids?
What nobody really expects is the best man to pocket the money collected for the groom’s stag weekend and spend it on his gambling habit.
But that is precisely what Martyn Galvin did – prompting a judge to describe his behaviour as “the meanest and nastiest” he had come across.
Galvin’s deceit was only discovered when the party of 17 friends turned up at Newcastle airport in England to discover that neither the flights nor hotel rooms for the stag weekend in Prague had been booked, leaving them £7,945 out of pocket.
Teesside Crown Court heard that sport teacher Dino Carter had asked Galvin to be his best man even before he had proposed to his fiancée Emma.
Galvin promised he would organise a three-day trip to Prague in August last year, to be followed by a trip to York Races in October, telling his friend it was “his best man’s duty”.
But as the wedding date approached Galvin began complaining that members of the stag party had not given him the money needed for the trip.
And when he failed to attend planned meetings between the men Galvin made excuses about having to attend hospital to receive treatment for bowel cancer.
When it finally became clear that Galvin had failed to book the plane tickets and hotel rooms Mr Carter initially thought he was the victim of either a “wind-up” or “mix-up”.
When he challenged Galvin - whose own father died of cancer when he was a teenager - the best man kept up the pretence of having booked the flights, claiming the travel agent had got the wrong dates.
It was only when Galvin’s mother told Mr Carter that his best friend was not suffering from cancer that the truth finally emerged.
Confronted by Mr Carter a few days later Galvin said “I’m sorry,” to which the groom replied: "You said you had cancer mate."
Mr Carter, 30, told the court: "I was beyond devastated. The fact he could do that to everyone is beyond belief. I’m mortified that the biggest conman I’ve ever known was the person I asked to be my best man.”
In the end Mr Carter managed to salvage his stag night by organising a night out in the north east market town of Yarm.
Galvin, who lives in Yarm, admitted fraud by false representation between January and October 2015.
It emerged in court that Galvin used the stag party money to fund his gambling addiction, sinking deeper into debt to an illegal bookie as he chased the “next big win”.
Duncan McReddie, defending, said Galvin, who has a 2008 conviction for a fraud in which he staged a robbery to steal £600 from his employer, was truly remorseful and he and his family had saved money to compensate the 23 victims in full.
Mr McReddie admitted the cancer claims were lies, but said Galvin did suffer from a “chronic digestive problem”.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Galvin: “This fraud is perhaps one of the meanest and nastiest 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 had entrusted in you the task and the honour of being his best man.”
He jailed Galvin for 20 months and ordered him to pay the full compensation in 28 days.
In a statement read out in court Mr Carter said: “When Martyn told me he had suspected cancer I was absolutely devastated for him and his family. When I was told by his mum that he did not have any sort of cancer I was beyond devastated.
“For months he conned me and a lot of our friends into thinking he was seriously ill - all for the plain reason of money. I felt as if people look at me as the groom whose best man screwed his friends and family over money, and I’m ashamed of that. I never want to see him again.”