Vile wedding planner jailed for £57,000 fraud swindled Doncaster couple and ruined big day

A Doncaster couple have revealed how their big day was ruined by a vile wedding planner fraudster who has been jailed for swindling more than £57,000.

By Darren Burke
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 9:18 am

Dana Twidale, 44, has been jailed for five years after pleading guilty to 26 counts of fraud after a court heard she conned her victims out of their life savings on a pretence of organising their weddings.

Police believe that while Twidale is now behind bars, there may be many more brides and grooms across the country tricked into parting with their cash.

Doncaster couple Nikki Pepper and Craig Cooke were among those targeted by Twidale and whose big day was ruined by the heartless scammer.

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Heartless wedding scammer Dana Twidale has been jailed for five years. (Photo: Humberside Police).

Speaking to The Sun about their ordeal, they said Twidale had ‘taken their money and their dreams.”

Said Nikki: “Craig is a warehouse worker and I’m a stay-at-home mum. Money is tight but we love each other so much, and we decided we wanted to have the wedding of our

“It is only one day, and we wanted to make it special. We had been putting away so much every week and we were delighted when we could see large amounts and we could start putting our plans into place.

“My sister was also getting married and was using a wedding planner called Dana.

“I though that using a planner would be more expensive but, because she had brilliant contacts it meant she always had good deals on offer.

“We got in touch with her and had a Facetime meeting, she told us we could have the car, venue decoration, sweet cart, all flowers – including buttonholes - and a chocolate fountain, all for £980.

“We snapped her hand off and paid her for our wedding on July 24, 2020.

“In the meantime, my sister cancelled her wedding and Dana gave her a refund. We had no reason at all to think that anything would go wrong.”

But the pair were about to be delivered a blow.

“I was on a night out with my sister in July 2019 when I got a phone call from Craig to tell me Facebook had gone crazy with accusations that Dana was a conwoman who had robbed everybody’s money,” said Nikki.

“I went straight home in a mad rush.

“It turned out we had lost everything. Dana had taken our money and our dreams.

“The next day we spoke to our bank, who put us in touch with their fraud department and then the police, but we have never gotten anything back. We have had to start saving from scratch again.

“As we had the venue in place, we were having to try scrabble together to get enough funds in time for our wedding.

“But when Covid hit we lost our wedding venue too. We have had another problem with our wedding venue and have lost money there too.

“We’ve now had to save all over again for the whole wedding. It’s heart-breaking.

“We don’t have much money and we work hard for what we have. It’s not fair. We’re now getting married in July, this year, which is very soon.

“We should be excited, but we feel that so much has gone wrong and it feels so tainted that we just want it to be done and dusted. That is not how you should feel about your wedding day.

“It’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.”

Twidale preyed on 24 couples looking for wedding services for their special day, knowing she had no intention to provide the services they paid for.

As well as targeting bride and grooms, Twidale also conned a vulnerable man, who was grieving the death of his father, out of £42,000 after meeting him on online dating app Tinder, claiming she was a victim of domestic abuse.

She also targeted a woman following the death of her son. After learning that the woman was about to receive a substantial sum of money, Twidale gained her confidence and proposed she invest £2,500 in a wedding planning business - claiming that her previous business partner had pulled out. The woman gave Twidale just over £650 of her money.

Detective Constable Angela Ayliffe of Humberside Police said: "Dana Twidale was cold, calculated and adept at portraying empathy to her victim’s which, in truth, was false and a means to obtain more financially from her victims. She gave no thought to the effect her lies and actions had on her victims, she was callous."

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