Linslade hunk set up fake webpage claiming ex-girlfriend was a prostitute

Matt Dunford
Matt Dunford

A Linslade fitness fanatic dubbed Britain’s vainest man took an overdose just days before he was due to go on trial for harassing his ex-girlfriend, a court heard.

Matt Dunford bombarded Brazilian Amanda Branco with texts and emails and called her up to 30 times a day when their six-month relationship broke down.

He then went on to Facebook to repeat false allegations that Ms Branco was a call girl and linked it to her employer’s page.

He appeared at Hammersmith Magistrates Court after failing to appear at his trial earlier this month where he was found guilty of two counts of harassment without violence in his absence.

The image-obsessed fitness fanatic attempted to extort £5,000 from his ex, who once worked as a stripper.

When she refused to pay, Dunford then mocked up an escort website profile and sent it to her mother and sister.

On Tuesday, the court heard the 30-year-old had been in hospital the Sunday before his trial on February 2, and was too ill to make it to court.

His defence Leah Connolly said: “He suffered an overdose and was in hospital the Sunday before on February 1.”

She added: “As a result of the overdose he suffered a serious seizure, and had to go into intensive care, where he had intravenous drugs.

“During the convulsion he chewed his own mouth and would not have been able to talk during the trial.

“For a seizure of this kind the recovery period would be about 12 hours.”

She said: “He was not fit enough to stand or to travel to court even though he was released at 1am on February 2.

“I also have a report from his GP which shows his mental health is deteriorating, and this is not a game plan, but a man who is quite unwell.”

The magistrates were also shown a hotel reservation for Dunford and his mother to stay in London the night before the trial.

Ms Connolly added: “This is to show that this is not a delaying tactic.”

However in response prosecutor Tom Gill said: “This is a delaying tactic and I object to the case being reopened and any further trial date being set.”

Following a short retirement the panel of three magistrates rejected the application to reopen the case.

Magistrate Greg Thomson said: “It is the common ground that the overriding test of this is whether it’s in the interest of justice.

“One of the things that we need to be clear about is that the interest of justice covers not just you but also the victim in the case.

“We have examined the medical evidence of what you have been through and your depression and we are sympathetic to that, but we have to weigh that against the interests of the victim.

“That is why we have rejected your application for a reopening and a retrial.”

The court also heard how he had threatened to get Ms Branco deported back to Brazil and that he had “Jack Tweed’s lawyer working for him”.

The court also heard how he had called the victim a “bitch” and a “slut”.

In summing up magistrate Thomson said: “We believe this is a matter that can be dealt with in a category one in our guidelines, which is one we dealt with some sort of community penalty.

“This is a serious matter because it causes harm and distress to the victim, but we think with everything we have heard today in terms of your depression, this is a matter which can be dealt with a community penalty.”

Dunford’s sentencing has been adjourned until Thursday, March 12, and in the meantime a probation report will be compiled.

Dunford, who in the past has claimed he spends £10,000-a-year on his looks, tried to blackmail Ms Branco, a former lap dancer from Rio de Janeiro after she said the pair couldn’t be friends.

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

But when the six-month fling ended in October 2013 the personal trainer bombarded her with calls, texts and emails.

Ms Branco, a World Beauty Fitness & Fashion World Championship contestant, works as a gym instructor and gave evidence at the one-day trial in his absence.

A warrant was issued for his arrest, and on Feburary 3, Dunford surrendered himself at Hammersmith police station.

He then appeared in court on the same day accompanied by his parents, and said he had fallen ill following a seizure and was taken to Milton Keynes Hospital on the Sunday night.

He was released from hospital in the early hours of the Monday morning, but his parents decided he was not fit to attend court.

On Tuesday he was released on bail with the condition to live at his parents’ home in Soulbury Road, Leighton Buzzard.

The former Cedars student, who used to play football for Woodside and Woburn Lions, last featured in the LBO in February 2013 after appearing on ITV1 dating gameshow Take Me Out. He was approached by producers after he was placed in the top ten at the World Fitness Model championship in Miami.