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, according to Yorkshire Live.
The couple is 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 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.
Jason and Nicky Asquith-Thorpe (pictured), from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, were scammed out of more than £2,000 by ‘devious’ wedding planner Dana Twidale, 44
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 getting in contact with the wedding planner.
He told Yorkshire Live: ‘My wife saw an advert on Facebook about Dana and all the reviews were really good so she spoke to her mum and went to Hull to meet her.
‘She seemed really good and she showed her a lot of pictures for the venues. She showed her pictures of the marquee and she was really approachable.
‘We paid for everything before and then two days before the wedding we thought everything was good. But then she messaged about 9am saying the van had broken down but said another would be there before 12pm.
‘We thought nothing of it but then at 12pm we turned up at the venue and nothing was there.’
The couple is among hoards of brides-and-grooms-to-be who were fleeced out of their wedding savings by Dana Twidale (pictured), before she disappeared without a trace
The couple waited for Twidale to arrive before calling a man at the marquee hire company, who told them she 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.’
He continued: ‘In those next couple of nights we had so much stress and worry but on the day itself, we tried to not concentrate on it.
‘But then over the next couple of days we were constantly talking about it and wondering why she has done this to us.’
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.
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.
Mr Asquith-Thorpe, 50, admitted his wife (both pictured), 34, has found it hard to trust people again after the incident and still puts a lot of the blame on herself for what happened
Twidale was spotted sunning herself in Benidorm (pictured), Spain, last January but was arrested after returning to Britain last year
He explained: ‘At the time it happened I thought “justice will be done, she will get caught by the police” but when Covid kicked in and the months passed I thought the CPS would throw it out.
‘I didn’t think they would continue with it and I am grateful they have.
‘It was gobsmacking to find out how many people were victims and how devious she had been. It sounds like she got herself into a situation and made these false promises by spending money she didn’t have.’
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.
‘Ultimately it was both of us but my wife was the one who trusted her and went through all the chats with her,’ Mr Asquith-Thorpe said.
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.
‘I want her to be sentenced and I want her to go down for what she has done.’
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.
Twidale (pictured) is currently on unconditional bail having admitted to 26 courts of fraud against various people, including many other couples and her ex-boyfriend
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.
‘It’s one thing scamming people but preying on their vulnerabilities is just wrong.
‘I’ve started to question now if I ever really knew who she was. She was my wife but I just don’t know her anymore.’
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 previously told Yorkshire Live: ‘I’ve talked to my solicitor and sent letters out to her mum’s, her boyfriend’s house, her flat and I’ve had nothing back.
‘She doesn’t seem to be signing it even though we’ve got no property, kids or money between us. There is nothing tying us together – just the last name.
‘Maybe she is trying to get all this done under Twidale so she can then go back to her previous names.
‘It’s very frustrating and I don’t want it to impact my future.’
In a direct plea to Twidale, who allegedly has a new boyfriend, Carl said: ‘Let me go and just let it go.
‘She has caused so much heartache to everybody and I would love to speak to her boyfriend to ask him why she hasn’t signed the paperwork.’
Carl says he has been contacted by other men who claim to have been in a relationship with Twidale over the past few years.
Her guilt came as a relief – especially to her estranged husband Carl Twidale (pictured) who had to fight to clear his name after he was accused of knowing about her wicked behaviour
He said: ‘They’ve all said how she leads them on strong and she tells them she loves them to bits.’
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.
‘I’ve seen what people have said and they will want her to get jail time,’ 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.
‘I’m looking forward to going to court and I want her to see that I’m not affected and not bothered anymore.’