A DEVOTED wife was devastated when cruel thieves stole nearly £2,000 raised for her dying husband.
Carole Darbyshire, whose cancer-stricken husband Roland has had hundreds of pounds raised in his name, came home in the early hours of New Year's Day to find all the cash gone.
The 46-year-old, of Ormerod Street, Accrington, had spent the afternoon at Roland's bedside in Blackburn's Park Lee Hospice before going out for some drinks with friends. Meanwhile, her daughter Kirsty, 13, held a New Year's Eve party at the house.
Carole said: "I came back at 1.30am and found the table downstairs was smashed. I went upstairs to my bedroom and found the quilt of the bed was wet and the bedding was thrown around the room.
"The drawers had been rifled and all the money and sponsor-sheets had gone."
The story of newlyweds Carole and Roland Darbyshire, of Ormerod Street, Accrington, touched many readers' hearts after it appeared in the Observer in November. The pair had only been married for four days when Roland went for the scan that revealed he had lung cancer.
As a result, hundreds of pounds has been raised from charity events in aid of the Ribblesdale cancer ward at the Royal Preston Hospital, where Roland received radio and chemotherapy; Carole even had her head shaved for the cause. But in December further tests revealed the bombshell news that the cancer had spread from Roland's lungs to his brain.
Carole, who said the thieves even stole a copy of the original story from the Observer, went on: "I am utterly disgusted at what has happened.
"This is the lowest of the low - they have stolen off a dying man. I felt sick inside and I even screamed. I just couldn't believe it.
"All these people have got together and helped raise money for Roland, only to have these thieves ransack the house and take it.
"I hope people don't think this is a scam, because it isn't."
The thieves also took £400-worth of items, including a wedding and an engagement ring, a gold bracelet, a pair of gold earings, two mobile phones and a camera.
Carole, a trainee practitioner for the National Autistic Society, added: "Roland is very frail now. He looks more like a 78-year-old than a 58-year-old.
"He is on anti-depressants and steroids, but they can't give him anything for the pain.
"Once he starts with the headaches, he will have to go on morphine, but I know he is such a proud man, he won't tell them he is suffering.
"Now I feel like I have let him down. I just hope we get the money back. The rest of it is immaterial."
Detective Inspector Pete Broome, of Accrington CID, said: "I would like to believe that the person responsible for taking this money was not aware that it had been collected through hard work and generous contributions in respect of helping people with cancer.
"If the thief knew the origins and intended destination of that money, I have no words to describe how despicable such an offence is."
Anyone with information should contact police on 382141.