Man 'conned out of £35,000 by claims niece set for Hollywood stardom'

David Bunton told a court his sister Ann Dunlop claimed her daughter was mingling with A-listers such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Man alleges sister conned him with claims about niece in Hollywood with Di Caprio and Beyoncé Getty Images

A businessman claimed he was conned after allegedly being told his niece was set for Hollywood stardom.

David Bunton said sister Ann Dunlop, 67, stated her daughter Heather was being lined up for big acting roles and was mingling with A-listers such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

The 51-year-old told a court he handed over cash to help her make the breakthrough.

He also allegedly bailed out his financially “struggling” sister.

But, Mr Bunton claimed he became suspicious after a Chanel advert Heather said she was starring in did not appear. 

Ann Dunlop is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court accused of obtaining £35,368 by fraud from Mr Bunton as well as other family members between March and December 2016.

The pensioner, of Beauly in the Highlands, denies the charge.

Mr Bunton – chief executive of a life science company – said he had been supportive of niece Heather’s acting ambitions.

She had attended a prestigious London music college and appeared as an extra in BBC period drama Garrow’s Law.

Mr Bunton said that he had sold a business around the time Heather and Ann first approached him for £5,000 in March 2016.

The explanation apparently given by Ms Dunlop was the money was to go to “supporting Heather” and “build her career.”

The witness said: “I was told she was offered a [music] contract with Sony.

“We were later told that she was offered a better contract with more money.

“There was talk about meeting Beyonce and Jay Z… about movies with Quentin Tarantino and Michael Keaton.

“She had dinner which she attended with her agent and went to the Oscars to make various connections.”

Mr Bunton added that he was told Heather was also lined up for a role for the show Wicked.

There were also alleged claims that American entertainment executive Irving Azoff had offered a better contract than Sony.

Mr Bunton said: “Azoff was her manager, she met Leonardo Di Caprio and she was working on promotional activity for Chanel which would go alongside her movies.”

Mr Bunton said that he was unaware of the figure Heather was to receive but believed it was millions.

A top Hollywood director had also taken her “under his wing”.

There were other claims Heather was allegedly to appear in a Coen Brothers film, but that it was postponed.

The witness said: “Ann was upset… her husband Billy was more distressed.”

Mr Bunton said he handed over a further £27,000 to help Heather as well as his apparently “struggling” sister and brother in law.

Prosecutor Redmond Harris asked about any repayment.

Mr Bunton said: “It was promised… this was made clear by phone calls and texts.”

He added that he also covered Heather’s unpaid council tax and footed the cost for Ms Dunlop and her husband’s gas bill.

Mr Bunton claimed he was told there was a banking issue with any money Heather was due.

He stated his suspicions were raised when a Chanel advertisement that Heather claimed to be in did not appear around Christmas 2016. 

He then met his sister in early 2017 at a London pub as he “had concerns about the situation”.

Mr Bunton said: “I did not really get a convincing explanation.

“We left on good terms but I left more worried and confused.”

The witness stated that communication with Ms Dunlop eventually stopped and his last contact with Heather was Christmas 2016.

Recalling visiting Ms Dunlop at her then-home in Glasgow’s Hyndland, he said his sister blamed another relative for “stirring things up”.

He said he was also handed a bank letter, which he knew was fake.

Mr Bunton said: “I was so conflicted not to challenge them on it and say you are lying – I was so upset they were doing that.”

He told the trial that the family is broken apart and he has still not received the £33,800 back which he is said to have handed over.

Mr Harris said: “What do you know about Heather’s acting career?”

Mr Bunton replied: “From internet searching, there was no career to my knowledge.”

The summary trial, without a jury, continues next month before Sheriff Kevin McCarron.

Ms Dunlop is ordained to appear in the meantime.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code