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Saturday, Jul 31, 2021

Dana Twidale: Wedding planner jailed for £57,000 fraud

Dana Twidale: Wedding planner jailed for £57,000 fraud

A wedding planner who conned would-be brides and grooms out of thousands of pounds has been jailed for five years.

Dana Twidale, 44, from Hull, fled to Spain after taking £15,000 from 24 couples for services she did not deliver between 2017 and 2019.

She also defrauded more than £42,000 from a man she met on a dating app, leaving him on the verge of bankruptcy.

Sentencing Twidale at Hull Crown Court, Judge Mark Bury said her actions were "callous" and "extremely unpleasant".

Some of the couples found out about her trickery via complaints on social media, days before their big day, while others only discovered they had been fleeced the night before their weddings when their orders did not materialise.

Twidale, who used the money to fund a gambling problem and a month-long holiday to Spain, also lied about being a domestic violence victim, that her mother had died and her brother had tried to commit suicide, in order to defraud people she knew.

One couple said: "I just do not have the words to describe how anyone with any morals could do this to anybody. I just cannot believe anybody could be so heartless."

The 44-year-old, who had a gambling problem, recognised her actions left all her victims "emotionally distressed", her defence barrister Michelle Stuart-Lofthouse said

Another couple, who had to sacrifice their honeymoon to pay for their wedding, said: "Because of Dana Twidale, I look back at my wedding day and, rather than thinking of the good things, I am constantly reminded of what she put us through."

Others said they "don't know how she can sleep at night" and described her as a "cold, malicious, calculating person who has no thoughts or feelings for other people planning what is the most significant day of their lives".

Judge Bury said: "Those frauds, 24 of them in total, amount to something in the order of £15,000.

"Not, in the grand scheme of things, a large amount of money, but to each and every one of those victims it meant a lot.

"The majority of them had saved and scrimped, gone without, to pay you to make their day special and you went off to Spain with the money, or to the local bookmakers I imagine."

The court was also told how Twidale also defrauded Nigel Wainwright, a man she had met on Tinder, out of £42,000, and Fiona Barker, a woman she met while working at a funeral directors that dealt with the funeral of Ms Barker's son, out of £650.

'Cunning and abhorrent'

Dale Brook, prosecuting, said Twidale "preyed" on the fact that Ms Barker's son had committed suicide by telling her she was in hospital after her brother tried to take his own life.

The claim "resonated" with Ms Barker, who pawned her phone to send Twidale money.

The barrister said Twidale told Mr Wainwright "highly calculated and emotive lies" - including exploiting his grief at his father's death with the "cunning and abhorrent" false claim that her mother had died - in order to extract money from him.

Twidale, of Newtown Court, Hull, pleaded guilty to 26 counts of fraud at a previous hearing at Hull Magistrates Court in May.

Michele Stuart-Lofthouse, defending, said Twidale accepted responsibility for what she had done.

She said: "What she recognises is that her actions have left all individuals emotionally distressed and with a loss of money."


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