A WEDDING planner who left a trail of debts in Spain before reappearing on a reality TV show in Ireland has pleaded guilty to theft at a court in Dublin.
Irish expat Sue Danker left countless couples high and dry on the day of their nuptials when she ‘vanished’ from the Costa del Sol in 2012 after her company, Spanish Dream Weddings, went bust.
The 48-year-old and her then husband and business partner Howard Danker had previously featured in an RTE documentary in 2007 called The Great Escape, about their move from south Dublin to Marbella to set up their wedding business.
Danker also later appeared solo in the reality TV show Clubland, The Wright Venue in 2015 after she fled from the Costa del Sol amid the financial scandal.
The Olive Press first reported Danker’s company had run into financial difficulties in October 2012, after many expats came forward to reveal they had lost out on their dream wedding thanks to the wedding planning scam.
Danker admitted in court that she continued to trade until September 2012 when she no longer had enough money to pay contractors.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of deception, and three of theft on dates between September 7 and 10, 2012.
Detective Garda James Codd told Garrett McCormack BL, for the prosecution, that Sarah Foran and Colm Moriarty were getting married in Spain in September 2012 and had paid about €10,000 to Danker to organise the event.
Eight days before the wedding, Foran discovered that none of the contractors had been paid. Detective Garda Codd said that the list of those left unpaid included a florist, a DJ, a videographer, a singer and a flamenco dance troupe. In addition, church fees had not been paid.
In a victim impact report Foran said Danker’s actions left their wedding day ruined.
“We are both fair and reasonable people, we would have worked with Suzanne,” she said, adding that because Danker had cut off communication, they were left feeling powerless at an important moment in their lives.
Danker had continued to seek payments from the couple and the court heard that she was ‘scrambling and floundering, trying to offset deposits and commissions from one wedding to fulfil obligations to another wedding’.
Olan Callanan BL, for the defence, said Danker, who had successfully organised about 200 weddings, was relying on the investment of €12,000 promised earlier that summer.
He admitted his client continued to run the business ‘in a chaotic and haphazard way’ and that injection of cash never materialised when a person in Gibraltar did ‘a runner with the money’.
Danker then vanished from the Costa del Sol and in 2015, the Olive Press exclusively revealed that Danker had landed herself a plum job as the PA to Irish multi-millionaire Michael Wright and appeared in a reality TV show Clubland based on his nightclub, The Wright Venue.
“Suzanne has committed to resolve all issues with parties involved,” The Wright Venue’s press officer Tatum Rooney said at the time.
In Clubland’s first episode, Rooney ironically admitted that she wanted ‘the most press coverage possible’.
The judge handed down a suspended three-year prison term to Danker on condition that a sum of €9,500, which was brought to court, be paid over to the victims and that another €5,000 be paid over the next two years.
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