Message to top designer over ‘late’ wedding dress

A dispute over a £2,500 wedding dress culminated in an angry groom sending threatening messages to a top fashion designer, a court heard.

Samantha Benveniste — a protégé of Bruce Oldfield OBE — was commissioned by Pedro Makufi to design a dress for fiancée Elisa. But the couple said it was not finished in time and demanded a full refund plus interest.

Isleworth crown court heard Mr Makufi, 43, left the designer “disturbing” voicemails and texts. He denied a charge of harassment and claimed he only sent the messages to force police to “get justice”.

His trial last month resulted in a hung jury, and this week the Crown Prosecution Service told the court it was not seeking a retrial.

Photos: A-line wedding dress

The court heard that on the day of the wedding Mr Makufi left a voicemail saying: “The next time we meet, one of us will die and that will be you. I’m ready to do anything for what you’ve done to me. The only way you can avoid it is to kill me. First I swear to Allah. You can pass this message to the police.

“You’ve destroyed me. You really pissed me off, you insult me, you ruin my happiness and wedding day.”

Miss Benveniste, a London College of Fashion graduate who opened a studio in Kensington, told the court: “They cancelled the day before the wedding. The dress was done, I had done the work.”

She said Mr Makufi had demanded a meeting outside Notting Hill station the day before the wedding, and wanted a refund plus interest: “He asked me to come on my own. This was traumatic.”

The voicemails were “disturbing ... I felt extremely threatened.” Mr Makufi, of Hayes, claimed the messages related to civil action and were not meant to be physically threatening: “I sent a text not to frighten her but make her realise ‘I’ve broken all my promises to Pedro.’”

He said he waited at the station until 10pm: “I was lost, I didn’t know what my wife was going to wear.” The wedding went ahead on April 5, with Mrs Makufi in a substitute dress.

A CPS spokeswoman said it had “no choice” to offer no evidence as Ms Benveniste did not attend court for the trial.

She said: “Without the complainant’s evidence there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In the absence of any official documentation explaining the complainant’s absence at the time of the hearing the CPS therefore had no choice but to offer no evidence.”

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