Posted on Fri, Apr. 07, 2006

Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland - Creditors told a crowd of brides-to-be Friday they won't be getting their wedding dresses or their money back because of a dressmaker's surprise bankruptcy.

More than 180 women planning for their weddings were jilted at the Wedding Dress Bridal Stores in Cork, in southwest Ireland, which shut without warning March 23 - with an order book for prepaid dresses costing between $2,500 and $8,500 each. Police had to be called to guard the shop from enraged engaged couples.

The shop owner, Judith Linehan, promised last month to deliver the outstanding dresses or refund deposits.

But at a meeting Friday in Cork, Linehan told more than 100 women, their grooms-to-be and parents that she had no significant assets and had debts to 340 creditors - including Ireland's tax authorities, several banks and other dress buyers who didn't attend the meeting - that exceeded $1.2 million. Many of her customers fled the room in tears and fury.

"My dress is sitting in Australia waiting to be shipped, but they won't do it because that woman hasn't paid them a penny for it," said Vicky Hudson of Cork, who plans to wed in September.

Two police officers stood guard in Friday's meeting. Afterward, Linehan declined to comment. But her lawyer, Eugene Carey - who described the meeting as the most emotionally fraught he had ever experienced - read a prepared statement from his client.

"Since the closure we've all been working around the clock to find resolutions for our affected customers. I share both emotionally and financially their loss," her statement said.


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