Court imposes restraining order on fitness fanatic

Matt Dunford
Matt Dunford

A Linslade fitness fanatic dubbed ‘Britain’s vainest man’, who harassed his ex-model girlfriend branding her a prostitute on a fake website has been banned from contacting her.

Matt Dunford, of Soulbury Road, bombarded Brazilian lapdancer Amanda Branco with up to 50 messages a day and tried to blackmail her out of £5,000 after their six-month relationship broke down.

The 30-year-old bodybuilder harassed Ms Branco with up 30 calls a day, texts and messages over Facebook for more than nine months, calling her “evil” and threatening to get her deported.

Image obsessed fitness fanatic Dunford went on to Facebook to claimed Ms Branco was a call girl and linked posts to her employer’s page.

Dunford, who described himself as a “model actor” and now works as a stripper, failed to appear for his trial at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court in February but was found guilty of two counts of harassment without violence in his absence.

He claims to have taken an overdose and suffered a seizure days causing him to miss the hearing.

Sentencing Dunford today (Thursday), Amanda Barron, chair of the bench, said: “It involves two periods of harassment over a long period of time, it also involves harassment electronically and wide disseminationn.

“This has had caused a great deal of distress for the complainant and possible impact on her work.

“We have decided that these two offences are serious enough to sentence you to a community order.”

Dunford, dressed in a black jacket, a multi-coloured scarf, and black trousers, was given a 12-month community order and told to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Ms Barron added: “We also decided we are going to impose a restraining order, we feel it’s a necessary precaution.”

The pair met in Ireland and worked at the same branch of Gymbox in Holborn.

Giving evidence Ms Branco told magistrates: “I went to Brazil for three months to get away from him.

“The day I got back – I don’t know how he found out – he left me a voicemail screaming ‘Are you back, are you back, are you back?’

“He kept asking me to meet him, he said he had problems with drugs and needed my friendship to move on and go back to the gym and move on my life. I was getting 30 calls a day.”

She added: “In February 2014 he said he found out I wasn’t just a stripper, [he thought] I was an escort.

“He started blackmailing me, saying he wanted £5,000 for what I did to his life.

“I felt scared and then he started saying if you don’t reply, wait and watch what is going to happen. He said you have until midnight and he gave me an address for a hotel just five minutes from my house.”

Ms Branco told the court: “He photoshopped a website saying I was an escort, he sent it to my mum and my sister.”

Describing the harassment Doreen Bogle, prosecuting, said: “On occasions he texted her over 50 times a day.

She added in once text message Dunford said: “I think you need to go back to Brazil, you are hurting too many people here.”

In another text he said: “Police hate escorts, they’re all druggies and liars.”

Miss Bogle said Dunford had also contacted her by phone and email.

On another occasion, the fitness fanatic emailed a friend called Alex, saying Branco was “pure evil, she literally tried to ruin me”.

He added: “She’s a disgrace, I’m going to make sure she’s deported back to Brazil, I have Jack Tweedy’s lawyer working for me.”

He also posted a Facebook message “referring to her as an escort, a prostitute, and a drug user,” said Ms Bogle

The World Beauty Fitness & Fashion World Championship contestant called police when Dunford arrived her flat demanding to be let in – claiming he wanted to collect his nutritional supplements.

Jess Ward, defending, said: “His career that he worked so hard for is literally in tatters, he has gone from having 20 [gym] clients to just two today.”

She said that his mother, who is a nurse, was supporting her son in the public gallery today.

Dunford will also have to pay a £120 victim surcharge and £920 in costs.

Magistrates also placed a restraining order on Dunford and ordered that he does not contact Ms Branco. He was told the order will remain in place until further order is made.