A mother and daughter who ran a bridal shop have avoided a jail sentence after conning brides-to-be out of nearly £12,000 for “hand-made” white gowns – stitched up in a factory in China.
Bridal boutique owner Melanie Bishop, 36, and mum Patricia, 60, pictured below right, tricked 13 brides into thinking they were buying bespoke gowns for their big day.
A judge gave the pair suspended jail sentences for advertising handmade bridal dresses up to £1,000 from the Bishops’ workshop in Wales.
Furious brides first found out they had been duped when they spotted “made in China” labels on their dresses – and launched a campaign to get their cash back.
But Bishop quickly shut up shop leaving more than 100 other brides worried they would be left without their white dresses on their big day.
Both women avoided jail after pleading guilty to 18 counts of “engaging in unfair commercial practice” after heartbroken brides complained to consumer watchdogs.
Before she was charged with fraud Bishop spoke about the “hellish nightmare” that led to close her bridal boutique Anna Sara Bridal in Newport.
Bishop and mum Patricia pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to 18 counts of engaging in unfair commercial practice between March 2015 and April 2016.
Melanie Bishop claimed her customers should have known their dresses from £700 to £1,000 were manufactured in China – and said she was the victim of a campaign of “abuse and lies”.
But an investigation by Newport Trading Standards ended with Bishop and her mother being charged with fraud.
The court heard they accepted claiming they had designed and made the dresses themselves.
The pair pleaded guilty to failing to inform customers the wedding dresses were actually made in China, falsely stating they would be made in their local workshop.
Melanie and Patricia Bishop, of Oakdale, admitted their behaviour was likely to distort the behaviour of the average consumer.
Another 20 charges will lie on file.
They were sentenced to six months imprisonment each, suspended for a year and three months.
Sentencing them at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday, March 26, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “The dresses in some cases would not fit, they deviated in colour and they were not handmade, one-off, or bespoke as was advertised.
“Many brides were left with no choice other than to accept the dresses of inferior quality.”
A Proceeds of Crime Act will not be pursued against either mother or daughter.