Orchestra player goes to jail for cancer fraud

Orchestra player goes to jail for cancer fraud


norman lebrecht

December 02, 2016

Bethan Doci, 38, a violinist with the Royal Shakespeare Company orchestra and other groups, was jailed yesterday for 32 months for extorting £357,000 by telling people she needed money to fight cancer.

Doci, also known as Bethan Morgan, started in 2010 by telling orchestral colleagues she could not work because of cancer. They raised £1,900 to help her.

She then advertised her fake plight on Craigslist and went on to target middle-aged men, depriving one of them of his life’s savings.

At Swansea Crown Court she admitted 11 counts of fraud. The court was told she earned £24,000 a year from playing the violin.

photo: Wales News Service


  • Alexander says:

    Here she is playing the theme from Schindler’s List: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4pUBINGb_E

    She’s also an absolutely dreadful violinist. Does she have any conservatoire training? On the evidence of this performance I cannot imagine she would have been admitted to any conservatoire. Honestly, I have heard better–much better–violinists in a couple of my local youth orchestras. The local children’s orchestra actually performed this piece with a boy from the youth orchestra as soloist. I don’t think he can have been older than 13 or 14, and he did a much better job of it than she is doing here. Music for modern Shakespeare productions is often neither particularly demanding nor even particularly musical. I’d be more impressed if she had played for a good West End show such as Miss Saigon or Top Hat.

    There’s another YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_BxZu-xLuo I don’t know the piece, but, again, the performance is awful.

  • Alexander says:

    I posted a comment, and I’m not sure where it went. In case that comment does turn up some time, I read a little more, and apparently she did attend Birmingham Conservatoire. If this is the standard of technique and musicianship of a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate, it does not say much for the conservatoire. Hopefully she is an anomaly and other Birmingham Conservatoire graduates are better than this.


    • Alexander says:

      My earlier comment, which has not appeared, was just saying that if you listen to this clip and to another one of her which is available on YouTube, you will hear that she is also a poor violinist and musician. Quite apart from the fact that she is unable to draw a particularly pleasant sound from the instrument, her intonation is indifferent and the fingers of her left hand appear stiff, meaning that her vibrato, when she uses it, lacks the effortlessness and freedom which one would expect in a better player. The Schindler’s List theme, though scorned by some musical snobs, is a beautiful composition. While I would not expect many violinists to achieve the kind of performance which we have heard from Itzhak Perlman, both in the film and in many subsequent performances, it is striking that, whatever her technical deficiencies, Ms Morgan does not even seem to have any feeling for the music and what it represents to humanity. I have heard children in school orchestras and youth orchestras who were better violinists than this woman. I am astonished to learn that she has any conservatoire training.

      • jim says:

        Thank Jehovah we have Alexander’s long-awaited opinion of her musicianship.

        • Alexander says:

          It’s worth pointing out because media reports concerning musicians, when not directly related to their musicianship, are often fairly misleading. For example, one newspaper described the almost completely unheard of Robin Zebaida as an ‘internationally renowned concert pianist’. Another pianist, John Briggs, was various described as ‘world famous’, ‘world renowned’, and ‘internationally renowned’, and referred to his ‘glittering international career’. It is true that he once played at Carnegie Hall, but only because he hired it for a self-promoted debut. In reality, he made a name for himself as a presenter on local radio, playing on a local TV show, and, strangest of all, giving an annual performance at Christmas at the Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley.

          • jim says:

            unheard of by you, that is.

          • Frederick West says:

            Briggs’ fell spectacularly from his self-promoted perch for his ‘systematic and relentless’ abuse of his pupils and other young boys. Interesting career path indeed…

          • Paul Davis says:

            Regarding the unheard-of pinist, i remember picking up an LP in a charity shop in Bixhell-on-sea, it was the “Internationally Renowned……Glittering,” (etc…) John Braggs, who additionally bragged on the sleeve notes that these type of virtuoso passages….”I’ve never had any trooble with them…” Even with the (botched) editing, it was obvious that he could hardly play a note.

          • Alexander says:

            Trust me, Robin Zebaida is not an internationally renowned concert pianist.

      • anonymous says:

        I totally agree. Having performed at a few modest international venues doesn’t make you an internationally renowned pianist.

  • William Ford says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Cancer would be an illness that Britain’s National Health Service does treat, right?

    I wonder how she explained that they were not doing that for her.

    Needing to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer treatment… that was plausible in America before Obamacare.

    • Alexander says:

      The NHS does offer treatment for cancer, but people sometimes identify treatments which are not available on the NHS, or even in the UK, and choose to pay for them privately and/or in other countries. For example, there was recently a famous case in which a family travelled to the Czech Republic so that a boy could receive proton beam therapy which was not available to him through the NHS/in the UK. This doesn’t only happen with cancer treatment. I’ve certainly heard of people travelling to the USA for treatments that are not available in this country, let alone on the NHS.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        That is interesting. According to this report, NHS HAS been sending people abroad for proton beam treatment.


        I presume the problem is for people who want it after the NHS has assessed it would provide no advantage for them.

        “For most patients right now, there’s no strong evidence that proton beam radiotherapy is ‘better’ at curing cancer”

        • Alexander says:

          This is true, but the patient who went abroad for proton beam treatment after being told it would not benefit him actually recovered, so it’s understandable that some people don’t trust that the NHS will provide the best treatment, even though I am sure it usually does. There are also drugs that aren’t available, or which are available only in certain parts of the country. In the UK it’s quite common to hear the expression “postcode lottery”, meaning that a certain treatment may available to somebody living in one postcode area but not in another. In reality it’s not actually about postcodes but about how NHS services are commissioned locally, but “postcode lottery” is the phrase used. Then, of course, there is the fact that healthcare is devolved to the four countries that make up the UK, so treatments that are available in one country within the UK may not be available within another country.

  • Mahlerfive says:

    Birmingham Conservatoire? Thought that moniker applies only to Moscow, Brussels and Paris!