A couple revealed their wedding day was ruined by a ‘wicked’ scammer 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.
The pair are among hoards of brides-and-grooms-to-be who were fleeced out of their wedding savings by Twidale, before she disappeared without a trace.
She also conned Tinder dates out of money – including one man who she scammed for £10,000 to pay for her mother’s funeral, despite the fact her mother was still alive.
Twidale is currently on unconditional bail having admitted to 26 courts of fraud against various people, including many other couples and her ex-boyfriend.
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.
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.
He said: ‘Emotionally it was supposed to be one of the happiest days of our lives but it was one of the worst. It was frustrating, annoying and just heartbreaking.’
Thankfully for the couple, they were able to use a church hall and Harrogate Town Football Club’s bar to host their wedding, but had to spend an extra £3,000.
They reported Twidale to the police and last month, almost two years after the nightmare ordeal, she pleaded guilty to conning Mrs Asquith-Thorpe out of £2,247.
Mr Asquith-Thorpe continued: ‘Over the next couple of days we were constantly talking about it and wondering why she has done this to us.’
After going on the run and disappearing without a trace, Twidale was eventually spotted sunning herself in Benidorm, Spain, and also reportedly in Tenerife.
But in May last year, she was back in Britain and was seen working in takeaway shops in the Humberside area.
Now the law has finally caught up with the conwoman, who last month pleaded guilty to 26 counts of fraud.
After hearing that Twidale was arrested after reentering the country, Mr Asquith-Thorpe said he is glad that she will be sentenced at Hull Crown Court this month.
He explained: ‘It was gobsmacking to find out how many people were victims and how devious she had been.’
Mr Asquith-Thorpe said he would be keen to face her in court and watch her get her comeuppance as he wants to ‘see her pay’ for the ‘heartbreak’ she caused.
He also admitted that his wife, 34, has found it hard to trust people again and still puts a lot of the blame on herself for what happened as she was the one who spoke with Twidale.
He added: ‘I want to see her pay for what she did. She took money – it’s fraud. But it’s not just that – she played with people’s lives and weddings and she has made people distrust others.’
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.
A number of love-struck men also say the mother-of-four defrauded them out of large sums.
One man, 45, says he lost £4,000 to her. And another suitor who met her via the Tinder dating app claimed he gave her £10,000 for her mother’s funeral – only to find out that her mother was still alive.
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.
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.
He wants to divorce her for good so they are no longer associated by name and he can make a fresh start with his new girlfriend.
Carl says he has been contacted by other men who claim to have been in a relationship with Twidale over the past few years.
Carl has not heard from Twidale since she moved out of his flat. They have been estranged for years and he faced threats when she was initially accused of fraud in 2019.
Carl, who is keen to see a counsellor after a traumatic couple of years, wants to attend the sentencing at Hull Crown Court this month.
He will accept whatever punishment the judge passes but is keen to see justice served for the multiple victims of fraud.
He said; ‘I don’t have a bad bone in my body and if she does jail time, she does jail time – that is up to the judge and I’m not going to say she should go down for life or anything but hopefully justice will prevail.’
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