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Father 'shocked' at Lapland park

A young father has described his disappointment after taking his family to see a Lapland-style theme park.

Stephen Dimond told a court he bought tickets for his wife, his parents and his and four-year-old son to go and see the Lapland New Forest attraction.

Instead of the promised "beautiful snow-covered log cabins" and a "magical experience" he said his family's experience was nothing like they were expecting, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Mr Dimond, from Hampshire, said his wife had seen the advert for Lapland New Forest in their local newspaper and he had checked the attraction's website. "I was very encouraged by the pictures. It was the wording particularly which sold it to me - 'Beautiful snow-covered log cabins', the 'breathtaking tunnel of light'," he said.

Mr Dimond and his parents paid £150 for tickets to the theme park, which was was set up at at Matchams Leisure Park, near Ringwood, Hants.

Mr Dimond was asked about his overall impression of Lapland New Forest. "Very little, if at all, any comparison to what I was sold," he told jurors.

Describing the 'breathtaking tunnel of light', Mr Dimond said: "It was only at the end that we realised we had gone through it. I didn't recognise it and I walked straight past it. My wife looked round and said: 'I think we've just walked through the tunnel of light'."

Mr Dimond said his family queued for two hours to see Father Christmas but gave up waiting because of the long queues. He said the ice rink was broken and he "begrudgingly" paid extra for his son to go on some funfair rides.

Mr Dimond complained to trading standards and was advised to write to the theme park operators to demand his money back, which he has not received. Jurors have heard that within days of the theme park opening in November 2008, hundreds of disgruntled visitors had complained to trading standards saying they had been ripped off. With customers charged £30 a ticket and with up to 10,000 advance bookings online, the owners - brothers Victor and Henry Mears - were set to take £1.2 million in ticket sales.

The brothers face five charges of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading action and three charges of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading omission. Victor Mears, 67, of Selsfield Drive, and Henry Mears, 60, of Coombe Road, both Brighton, Sussex, deny all the charges.

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