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Wednesday 29 May 2024

Jailed: South Wales Dine and Dashers Ann and Bernard McDonagh Sentenced

South Wales dine and dashers Ann and Bernard McDonagh have been jailed for their gluttonous crime spree across the region.

Ann McDonagh, 39, and Bernard McDonagh, 41, of Western Avenue, Sandsfield, Port Talbot, admitted five offences of fraud when they appeared at Swansea Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, 8th May 2024.

Ann McDonagh admitted an additional five offences of shop theft and obstructing a police constable in the exercise of their duties.

District Judge Chris James, sitting at Swansea Magistrates' Court, declined to sentence the thieving couple on the first occasion.

They were eventually sentenced by HHJ Paul Thomas KC sitting at Swansea Crown Court on Wednesday, 29th May 2024.

Fraud is an offence under section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. It has a maximum penalty of 12 months' custody on summary conviction; 10 years' custody on conviction on indictment. The specific mode of fraud in this case has not been reported, but it appears to be a case of fraud by false representation.

You can read the circumstances of the McDonaghs' crimes in my earlier article.

Suffice to say they are not very honest people, repeatedly stealing from small businesses across their local community. Dishonest freeloaders would be an entirely accurate description. Worse than that, they're habitually dishonest freeloaders who brazenly stuff their faces at other people's expense.

Anyway, I think I've made my feelings clear!

Further details have emerged about Ann McDonagh's offences of theft and obstructing a police constable.

In relation to the thefts, the court heard that on 6th September 2023 Ann McDonagh stole £126.60 worth of goods from the Tesco Extra store in Llansamlet. She shamelessly loaded them into a trolley and then wheeled them out to the car park where a blue Ford Transit was waiting.

On 3rd and 17th February 2024, together with another, she visited the Tommy Hilfiger store at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Bridgend. The pair made off with £491 worth of designer clothing.

In relation to the obstruction of a police constable, the court heard that McDonagh had been arrested on suspicion of theft and a racially-aggravated public order offence. Whilst in custody she falsely told officers she was 9 months' pregnant, which resulted in her release.

The court heard that Ann McDonagh has 18 previous convictions for 36 offences, which includes several shop thefts and fraud by false representation. The 39-year-old has 20 different aliases recorded on the police national computer along with 10 different dates of birth.

Bernard McDonagh has 27 previous convictions for 40 offences, including public order matters, offences against the person and possession of drugs. He has 23 different aliases on the police national computer, and eight different dates of birth recorded.

HHJ Paul Thomas KC, sentencing, told the couple that as well as greed being the motivation for their offending, he believed they got a "buzz" from it.

He noted that Ann McDonagh, a "fluent and practised liar" with a significant record of dishonesty, was the driving force behind the dine and dash offences.

HHJ Thomas was also distinctly unimpressed with the McDonaghs' dine and dash modus operandi, whereby they'd feign efforts at payment and leave one their children behind as "security" while they pretended to seek an alternative payment method.

Speaking of the impact on the children, he said: "It exploited them, put them at risk and gave them the example that dishonesty and deception are an acceptable way of living their lives.

"It was criminality for the sake of criminality. You each got a buzz to see what you could get away with."

He added: "Business suffered significant losses. It put people's livelihoods and jobs at risk.

"If your community is, as I am told, disgusted with your behaviour, they have every right to be."

Considering matters in totality, HHJ Thomas was of the view that the couple's offending was so serious that only a custodial sentence was appropriate. Furthermore, he indicated that there is no realistic prospect of rehabilitation, so immediate custody was appropriate.

Ann McDonagh was sentenced to 12 months' custody.

Bernard McDonagh was sentenced to 8 months' custody.

The couple were also ordered to pay compensation to the affected businesses.

Inspector Andrew Hedley, of South Wales Police, said: "The prolific and brazen offending of Ann and Bernard McDonagh rightly caught the attention of a large percentage of the local public. It is great to see that justice has now been served in the form of these sentences and thank those members of public who assisted with the investigation.

"They deliberately ran up huge bills at restaurants which they had no intention of paying. This had a significant impact on the premises they targeted, one of which was newly-opened at the time. Reducing and preventing business and retail crime is a priority within Swansea City, and any crime will be fully investigated, with those found offending, brought to justice.

"Ann and Bernard McDonagh clearly felt that the law did not apply to them. This sentencing shows that it does."

This is a good bit of sentencing. Rarely do you get thieves as brazen, persistent and arrogant as the McDonaghs.

I have to say that I am surprised, albeit pleasantly, that HHJ Thomas has decided on immediate custody. The McDonaghs are known to have parental responsibilities (in the loosest possible sense) for children under the age of 16, so I had thought a suspended sentence might be in the offing.

Ceredigion Woman Convicted After Police Officer Injured by Satan

A Ceredigion woman has been convicted of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control.

Diane Lees, 55, of North Road, Lampeter, admitted offences of being the owner of a dog dangerous out of control causing injury and being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control when she appeared at Llanelli Magistrates' Court on Friday, 10th May 2024.

Lees was sentenced at Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, 15th May 2024.

As discussed in our previous article about dangerous dogs and the law, these are offences under section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

In relation to the aggravated (causing injury) offence, the maximum penalty is 5 years' custody and/or an unlimed fine on conviction on indictment; 6 months' custody and/or an unlimited fine on summary conviction. In relation to the standard offence, the maximum penalty is 6 months' custody and/or an unlimited fine on summary conviction.

Magistrates heard that Lees was the owner of a dog named Satan, which was dangerously out of control on North Road, Lampeter on Sunday, 15th October 2023.

On Thursday, 4th January 2024, Satan was dangerously out of control and caused injury to a police officer in New Bridge, Lampeter.

There are no further details about the circumstances of either offence. It has to be said that legally the bar for what constitutes "dangerously out of control" is not very high - all that is required is for a person to be of the reasonable belief that the dog could cause injury to a person or assistance dog. That ranges from a bit of growling at one end of the spectrum to a full blown dog attack at the other.

Magistrates were of the view that Lees' offences, when considered in the round, were serious enough to merit a community order.

She was sentenced to an 18-month community order with a 9 months' alcohol treatment requirement and up to 20 days' rehabilitation activity requirement.

She was also ordered to pay £40 fine, £85 towards prosecution costs and £300 in compensation to the injured officer.

There is no mention of the surcharge, but given the award of costs it is likely (unless someone has muddled their priorities) she was also ordered to pay that £114 fee.

In accordance with section 4(1)(a) of the Act, the court also ordered the destruction of Satan.

Given its past behaviour and temperament the dog was deemed to be a danger to the public. Furthermore, Lees had demonstrated an inability to properly control the dog.

Lees was also banned from keeping dogs for a period of 5 years.

Friday 24 May 2024

Breaking: Lucy Letby Refused Leave to Appeal

Breaking news this morning: Lucy Letby has been refused leave to appeal her convictions for the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more.

You can read more about Letby's convictions in our earlier article.

Leave to appeal was considered at the end of April by Lord Justice Holroyde, Lady Justice Sharp and Mrs Justice Lambert.

Speaking earlier, Lady Justice Sharp said: "This court, having heard her application, has decided to refuse leave to appeal on all grounds and refused all associated applications.

"A full judgment will be handed down in due course."

In the original trial the jury failed to return a verdict in relation to the attempted murder of Child K, a premature baby girl delivered only a few hours earlier, on 17th February 2016.

Letby will face a retrial on that count later this year.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Custody Karaoke and Night Shift

Two short stories from recent times gone by.

Custody Karaoke:

It was a quiet day in a recent remand court, with only one case needing returned to custody at the end of the day.

The defendant in question admitted possession of a bladed article in a public place. There were various very distinctive aggravating factors, which I shall not delve into. Suffice to say his offence was at the more serious end of the spectrum. The circumstances were such that we decided to remand him in custody pending the completion of a pre-sentence report, leaving all sentencing options - including sending the matter to the Crown Court - on the table.

The chap in question was dealt with early during the morning session and returned to the cells downstairs pending his return to the (not so) local prison. No sooner had he set foot out of the courtroom than he burst into song. It was quite a persistent and operatic performance, with his voice reverberating through most of the building until lunchtime.

There was then a short pause, presumably as he ate his lunch, before the sanging resumed - even more energetically and enthusiastically than before.

For all it was a quiet day in terms of remands, the court had other business to be dealing with. We were still working at 1 pm, when our Legal Advisor turned to us and said that the Tribunals court, three rooms down the corridor and in closer proximity to the cells, was complaining about the incessant singing emanating from beneath. Was there anything we could do about it?

The sanging continued all afternoon, until around 5 pm when the bus eventually arrived to take our knifeman to prison.

Custody Night Shift:

I was on one of my regular jaunts to a neighbouring court. For all it's not one of my courts, I am a regular face and well known there.

Discussion turned to the fact that the cells had been occupied until after 9 pm on the previous evening, because the PECS contractor, GEOAmey, had been unable to find any available prison cell space until then.

The bus finally departed shortly after 9 pm. It had a 150 mile journey, passing 3 or 4 other prisons, until it arrived at its eventual destination sometime close to midnight.

It is to be hoped that whichever political party forms our next Government really gets to grips with the challenges faced in terms of prison capacity.