Married couple charged over ‘dine and dash’ spree

La Casona restaurant in Neath had been waiting two months for police to contact them
La Casona restaurant in Neath had been waiting two months for police to contact it - Wales news service

A married couple have been charged over an alleged string of “dine and dash” incidents where restaurants were left hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Bernard McDonagh, 41, and wife Ann McDonagh, 39, from Sandfields, in Port Talbot, will appear in court next month charged with offences related to non-payment at restaurants across South Wales.

South Wales Police said Mrs McDonagh had been charged with five counts of fraud and four counts of theft relating to shoplifting, while her husband had been charged with five counts of fraud.

Both will appear at Swansea magistrates’ court on May 8.

Restaurants posted appeals to identify a mystery family who ordered large meals before fleeing.

Several establishments were struck over nine months after a group of up to eight people tucked into large meals – often ordering double drinks or desserts before failing to pay the bills worth hundreds of pounds.

Kinga Szczesniak, the manager at La Casona, in Skewen, Neath, said other restaurants may not have suffered if police acted after initial warnings.

Police ‘only acted because of Facebook’

La Casona had been waiting two months for police to contact it after a family of six allegedly had a “dine and dash” eating spree costing £300 in February.

Ms Szczesniak said she was disappointed that the “police didn’t react earlier”.

“I have been waiting two months for any contact from the police. They didn’t even check [the] CCTV records that I sent them after it happened,” she said.

On Saturday, Ms Szczesniak contacted the police for an update and claims she was told there was no news – until she received a call back on Monday after the scam attracted media headlines.

She said: “[On Tuesday] they asked me for recordings again. I said I already sent them before. The response was ‘that was long ago’ so they don’t have them.

“I think they reacted only because of posts on Facebook.”

At newly opened Bella Ciao, in Swansea, a group is alleged to have left the restaurant with an unpaid £329 bill.

The Yard in Cowbridge and River House in Swansea reported similar incidents.

Both Bella Ciao and La Casone claimed a family ran up a bill worth hundreds of pounds and left without paying.

Tyrone Reese, Bella Ciao manager, said staff reported it to the police and claimed: “They were ordering the most expensive things on the menu, like T-bone steaks and the like.”

The restaurant posted a clip of the incident on its social media channels, which led other restaurant owners who believed they had been targeted by the same couple to come forward.

Leaving a restaurant without paying is a crime and carries a prison sentence of up to two years.