Couple repeatedly dined in restaurants then fled with hefty bills unpaid

Bernard McDonagh (left) and Ann McDonagh (centre) both covered their faces as they were spotted by members of the media arriving at court
Bernard McDonagh (left) and Ann McDonagh (centre) both covered their faces as they were spotted by members of the media arriving at court -Credit:John Myers/WalesOnline

A couple who repeatedly dined and dashed at various restaurants, leaving hefty bills unpaid, have pleaded guilty to multiple offences. Bernard and Ann McDonagh were responsible for over £2,000 in losses for several businesses, a court heard.

The pair entered guilty pleas to five counts of fraud when they appeared at Swansea Magistrates' Court on Wednesday. The judge was told that the McDonagh's enjoyed meals and drinks with their family at different eateries across south Wales and then absconded without settling their tabs, the Wales Online reports.

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On April 19, the couple visited Bella Ciao in Castle Street, Swansea, where they racked up a bill of £329.10 for food and drink, having "no intention of paying for it," the court heard.

Their spree also included not paying a £196 bill at Isabella's in Well Street, Porthcawl, on March 27, a £267 bill at River House in Kings Road, Swansea, on August 9, 2023, a £99.40 bill at Golden Fortune in Port Talbot on January 31, 2024, and a £267.60 bill at La Casona in Skewen on February 24, 2024.

Additionally, 39-year-old Ann McDonagh admitted to three counts of theft by shoplifting. These crimes involved acquiring clothing without payment at the Tommy Hilfiger shop within Bridgend Designer Outlet, amounting to the worth of £442 on February 3, 2024, and a further £49 on February 17, 2024.

She also confessed to obtaining household items from a Tesco Extra store in Swansea to the value of £426.60 and leaving without paying on September 6, 2023, and obtaining items from Sainsbury's at Bridgend Designer Outlet to the value of £400 and leaving without paying on February 25, 2024. Ann McDonagh also pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer in the course of their duty at Queen's Road Police Station in Bridgend in February 2024

The court heard the main aggravating factor in the case was the "presence of children" when multiple offences were carried out and that 41-year-old Bernard McDonagh had antecedent history. District Judge Chris James committed the proceedings to Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on May 29. He granted both defendants unconditional bail and requested a pre-sentencing report was made for each of them.

The pair attracted attention following their actions at the recently inaugurated Bella Ciao restaurant on Castle Street, Swansea in April, where they escaped without paying a bill exceeding £329.

In the aftermath of the incident manager Tyrone Reese said: "They were ordering the most expensive things on the menu like T-bone steaks and the like."

Following Bella Ciao's post of a picture featuring the group that visited their restaurant on social media, several other restaurants reported similar incidents.

La Casona, in Skewen, were left almost £300 down. A restaurant spokesman said: "After the meal four people have already left our restaurant. One lady stayed with a young boy to 'pay'.

"The woman tried to pay with a card which was declined. She said she would get another card from the car. We asked the boy to stay and wait for her in the restaurant. She left and 10 seconds after the boy started to run to the car."

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