A LYING father-of-three conned his family and work colleagues into thinking he had cancer in a desperate attempt to win his pregnant girlfriend back.

Martin Heath, who works at Tesco in Penistone, let relatives and co-workers believe he was suffering with the illness for months before coming clean.

He said his imaginary tale ‘snowballed’ after he told it to his former partner - an ex-colleague and mother of his 12-week-old daughter - in the hope she would have sympathy and return after breaking off their relationship.

His attempt failed.

The revelation has angered some staff at the store, who fundraised in his name, and caused supermarket bosses to launch an internal investigation.

Mr Heath, of High Street, Penistone, said he did not gain financially from the fictitious story, which he said started in May or June, and regretted his actions.

"I'm ashamed of what I’ve done and I hold my hands up," he said. "I shouldn’t have done it. I hope they can forgive and forget. Well forgive, not forget."

Mr Heath has been treated for depression and claims to have attempted suicide on two occasions.

He split from his partner of 22 years - the mother of his two teenage children - after beginning the affair with his then Tesco colleague.

His two older children and former long-term partner were also fooled by his fantasy story before he confessed the truth to them.

Mr Heath, who said he continued to work through his alleged illness, and the majority of people have been supportive since discovering the truth.

But some colleagues said they were disgusted by his behaviour. One even did a sponsored race, wearing a top bearing his name on it in aid of cancer research.

A spokesman for Tesco said the supermarket was investigating the allegation and taking the matter very seriously. No further comment was provided.