A teaching assistant conned colleagues out of £20,000 after lying to them saying she was fighting a terminal brain cancer and needed money for treatment, a court heard.

Mum-of-four Ursula Rose, 42, of Westgate Road, South Norwood, told sympathetic colleagues at St Thomas Beckett School in South Norwood, she needed the money for treatment and was struggling to repay the mortgage on her home, when she was infact cancer free, Croydon Crown Court heard.

Claire Robinson, prosecuting, said: "Mrs Rose repeatedly told friends and colleagues she was ill with cancer and this was not true and she knew it was not true."

Mrs Rose denies four counts of fraud against three colleagues between 2008 and 2009.

Prosecutors have not yet revealed what they allege the cash was actually spent on.

The court heard Mrs Rose asked fellow teaching assistant Gillian Trype for £3,000, because she did not want to leave her husband struggling and told another colleague Alison Patmore, she needed a £6,500 deposit for a private operation.

Croydon Crown Court heard before Christmas in 2008, Mrs Rose told Mrs Trype the tumours were growing aggressively.

"She said one tumour was wrapped around an artery in her temple and could kill her at any time," Mrs Robinson told jurors.

"She said the illness had progressed to level four which is terminal, and said she needed an operation to have the tumour removed."

The court heard Mrs Rose told Mrs Trype she was frightened she might die on the operating table and was worried she might leave her husband struggling to pay the mortgage and look after her four children.

Mrs Robinson said: "Ursula Rose gave Mrs Trype a loan application form but when Mrs Trype looked at the forms with her husband, they found it put their home at risk."

Believing they only had 24-hours to make up their mind, the couple agreed to lend Mrs Rose the money, taking £1,500 from each of their childrens' savings account, the court heard.

The court heard Mrs Rose told Mrs Patfield she needed £40,000 for an operation at Harley Street.

She said she was unable to pay for treatment or the £6,500 deposit and could not apply to remortgage her house until September 2009.

Mrs Patfield took a loan out for £6,200 on behalf of Mrs Rose on the belief she would pay the monthly payments, the court heard.

Jurors were told the mum-of-four told her friend Michelle Willis she had financial difficulties her husband did not know about, which led to Mrs Willis writing her a cheque for £5,000 from her own account and a further £5,500 cheque from her daughter Sarah's account.

The court heard Mrs Rose's alleged scam was uncovered when a headteacher inquired with a doctor at Croydon University Hospital about the cancer and received a letter saying she did not have a brain tumour and suffered from "tension type headaches."

The case continues.