Wedding boutique cons brides into buying 'bespoke hand-made' dresses that have 'made in China' labels

Telegraph Reporters
Melanie Bishop, who tricked brides into thinking they were buying bespoke gowns, with one of the dresses - WALES NEWS SERVICE

A wedding boutique was caught selling fake "hand-made" dresses when brides spotted the "made in China" labels, a court heard.

Melanie Bishop, 36, and her 60-year-old mother Patricia tricked 13 brides into thinking they were buying bespoke gowns.

A court heard the pair advertised hand-made bridal dresses costing up to £1,000 from a workshop in Wales.

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 dresses.

So many shops outsource their materials and labour from China. It's not uncommon and I never hid it

Melanie Bishop

Both women now face possible jail sentences after pleading guilty to 18 counts of "engaging in unfair commercial practice" after 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, South Wales.

One bride Nichola Pakau, 34, said: "It has been an awful experience. It has affected my home life and work life."

Another bride's mother, 55-year-old Kim Burroughs, said: "You expect everything to be perfect for your daughter's wedding. I didn't expect this."

The Bishop mother and daughter 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".

Bridal boutique owner Melanie Bishop and her mother Patricia Credit: WALES NEWS SERVICE 

Speaking at the time the boutique was closed, she said: "It's not that we set out to deliberately mislead people, that's not it. When I said our dresses were all our own designs that was true.

"The only thing I could have done differently was be explicitly clear about the origins of the dresses, but so many shops outsource their materials and labour from China. It's not uncommon and I never hid it. I left the made in China labels in."

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.

The Anna Sara Bridal store in Newport Credit: WALES NEWS SERVICE 

Melanie and Patricia Bishop admitted their behaviour was likely to distort the behaviour of the average consumer. 

Judge Patrick Curran QC told them he will not be the sentencing judge and warned them: "All appropriate sentencing options are open."

Both women, of Oakdale, near Blackwood, South Wales, were granted bail ahead of their sentencing in March.

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