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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bride distraught after best friend pockets £3,000 Benidorm hen party fund and disappears

-Matron of honour claimed flights were cancelled but had pocketed the money

By Daily Mail Reporter

A bride-to-be was distraught when her best friend vanished with the £3,000 fund for a hen party in Benidorm.

Nadine Kelly and 30 friends had saved up for the party and Charlene Whittaker, the matron of honour, had offered to take charge of the money and the arrangements.

But three days before the group was due to fly to Spain Whittaker told them the flights had been cancelled.

Runaway bridesmaid: Charlene Whittaker, left, with Nadine Kelly, the bride she duped together with her friends out of £3,000 for a hen party in Benidorm

Not happy: Nadine Kelly, centre, with the disgruntled hen party which was robbed of the holiday savings by their 'friend'

Then they discovered the truth, that Whittaker - a childhood friend of Mrs Kelly's - had never booked the trip, which had been due to take place last May, and had pocketed the money.

Whittaker, 29, from North Anston, near Sheffield, pleaded guilty to theft when she appeared before Rotherham magistrates early this week.

She was given a community service order of 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,410 compensation with £75 costs.

She has now moved out of the area to Worksop in Nottinghamshire.

Mrs Kelly, 30, a hairdresser from Thurcroft, near Rotherham, said: 'After I found out what had happened I was gutted, I just couldn't stop crying.

She's still never given me an explanation for what she did.

'I thought that she was my best friend. I couldn't believe it when I found out she had done this.

'I just couldn't comprehend that someone I had been so close to could do something like that to me.'

She said that the theft came to light when Whittaker claimed the flights to Benidorm had been cancelled because of the volcanic ash cloud which disrupted air travel last May.

Hen-party destination: The bride-to-be and her friends had been due to fly to Benidorm

Mrs Kelly and her friends hastily made other arrangements to fly to Spain and she married fiance James Kelly in September.

After the honeymoon she and the other hen party guests decided to call the police.

Whittaker had offered to organise a joint hen trip to Benidorm for family and friends of Mrs Kelly as well as another bride-to-be, Sarah Thickett, and had begun collecting payments from the party members a year earlier.

Mrs Kelly said that it was not until a few weeks before they were due to fly that she had any inkling there was a problem.

She said: 'Charlene said something about the ash cloud causing problems but it was on the Wednesday before we were due to fly on the Sunday that she told us that the flight was cancelled.

'My sister-in-law rang the airline to see what had happened and they said the flight had never been cancelled and we had never been booked onto it.'

She said: 'I had been texting Charlene and we got a cheque through her mum for some of the money.

'She kept sending messages saying she had not been paid yet and then changed her number and we couldn't contact her.

'If she had come to me at the start and said "I've so done something stupid", I would have helped her. We would have sorted it out.'

Mrs Kelly added. 'I still don't know why she did it. If I saw her now I would just ask her why?

'I've never had an apology, an explanation or anything.'



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