Wedding planner who fleeced distraught couples jailed for five years

Wedding planner, 42, who fleeced £15,000 from distraught couples and tricked Tinder date out of £42,000 is jailed for five years

  • Dana Twidale admitted 26 counts of fraud at Hull magistrates’ court last month
  • The 44-year-old posed as wedding planner to con dozens of couples out of cash
  • Mother-of-four went on the run to Spain and Tenerife before returning to the UK
  • Court heard Twidale used money to fund a gambling addiction and was in debt 
  • She was sentenced to five years in prison after conviction for the series of frauds

Pictured: Dana Twidale conned couples out of cash while posing as a wedding planner

A ‘heartless’ wedding planner who conned dozens of vulnerable victims out of thousands of pounds in a ‘campaign of planned and callous frauds’ has been jailed for five years.

Dana Twidale, 44, ‘blighted’ the weddings of 24 couples when she took payment for services that she did not deliver, leaving them angry, stressed and losing money they had ‘saved and scrimped’ to make their days special, Hull Crown Court heard.

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.

Twidale, from Hull, East Yorkshire, admitted 26 counts of fraud by false representation totalling about £60,000, during an earlier hearing before magistrates.

At her sentencing on Monday, Hull Crown Court heard that she defrauded the couples by offering services for their weddings that she never intended to provide.

Dale Brook, prosecuting, read out victim personal statements from a number of the couples, who described the stress and anxiety they felt at not knowing if their weddings would be able to go ahead, and having to pay for services they had already paid Twidale for, and could not afford.

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.’

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.’

The Court heard Twidale (pictured) carried out a campaign of ‘planned and callous frauds’

One bride described Twidale as a ‘selfish con artist’ and said: ‘I’m still affected by what she did. I feel duped, hurt and angry, all caused by her, a woman I welcomed into my home.’

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 Mark 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.’

He added: ‘It’s a minor miracle, it seems to me, that none of those weddings were completely ruined, but it’s blighted their days and, for a bride, one of the best days of their lives has been affected by you.’

Twidale went on the run and was pictured sunning herself in Benidorm before returning to UK

Nigel Wainwright (pictured) was targeted by fraudster Dana Twidale after they met on Tinder

Opening the case earlier, Mr Brook told how Twidale had also defrauded 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 and targeted Nigel Wainwright, a man she had met on Tinder, out of £42,000.

Mr Brook said: ‘The defendant has engaged in a campaign of planned and callous frauds.’

Twidale claimed she was a victim of domestic violence by a male she lived with when in fact, Twidale lived alone at the time.

In October 2018, Twidale sent Mr Wainwright photos showing her with a black eye which she later admitted was created using make-up.

To help Twidale get out of her ‘domestic violence situation’ Mr Wainwright took out nine loans in October and November that year. 

On December 8, 2018, Twidale requested various amounts of money to help pay for her mother’s funeral.

Wainwright sent her £300 and borrowed £3,000 from his own mother to pay for a headstone.

Mr Brook, prosecuting, said: ‘All of this was entirely false and the claim her mother had died was particularly cunning and abhorrent because her mum was alive and well.’

Jason and Nicky Asquith-Thorpe, from Harrogate, paid Dana Twidale to provide the marquee, tables, chairs and food for 100 guests at their wedding reception in North Yorkshire in 2019

Earlier this year, a couple revealed their wedding day was ruined byTwidale who stole more than £2,000 of their money and vanished just two days before the nuptials.  

Jason and Nicky Asquith-Thorpe, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, paid Dana Twidale, 44, to provide the marquee, tables, chairs and food for 100 guests at their wedding reception on July 27, 2019.

The couple said they thought she seemed ‘professional and approachable’, but Twidale vanished just two days before their wedding.

Speaking out about the fraudster, Mr Asquith-Thorpe, 50, said they initially thought she was very ‘approachable’ after finding her on Facebook.

His wife travelled to Hull to meet Twidale, and said she thought the planner was ‘really good’ after showed her pictures of venues and marquees.

The couple paid her £2,247 for the wedding, but two days before the ceremony, Twidale messaged them at 9am saying her van had broken down but another would be there for 12pm.

Appearing at Hull magistrates’ court in May, Twidale (pictured with estranged husband Carl) admitted 26 counts of fraud and the case was referred to the crown court for sentencing

When the couple turned up at the venue, they were shocked to find that nothing was there and called a man at the marquee hire company, who told them Twidale had cancelled the booking and was ‘making her own arrangements’.

Mr Asquith-Thorpe said they called her multiple times but never heard from her again, and slammed the ‘devious’ wedding planner for ‘ruining’ their wedding day.

The couple have said they are ‘elated’ with the sentence passed down to Twidale.

Speaking outside court, Mr Asquith-Thorpe told Hull Live: ‘I would like to thank the CPS and the police for all their hard work over the last years to ensure she got her just desserts.’ 

Other couples across Yorkshire have previously revealed how they were conned by mother-of-four Twidale.

One bride said she had paid ‘well over £2,000’ to the former wedding planner and was left distraught when she turned up to find an empty marquee two days before her wedding.

Police and the reporting agency Action Fraud began to investigate Ms Twidale, 42, after complaints from engaged couples, catering and event hire firms and DJs.  

The news of her guilt came as a relief to many – none more so than her estranged husband Carl Twidale who had to fight to clear his name after he was accused of knowing about her wicked behaviour.

Twidale has been jailed for five years at Hull Crown Court (pictured) over 26 fraud convictions

Speaking two years ago when the allegations came to light, Carl said: ‘It was numbing to read about all the scams and I can’t believe she has done this.

‘When I first met her she was lovely, bubbly and you just wanted to be around her. Everybody would say the same but it seems that was all part of the act.

‘There are no words. She is just wicked and it’s twisted – you can’t do the things she has done.’

Carl, who is 47 and lives in Hull, has been estranged from Twidale for four years. 

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