Serial dine-and-dash couple repeatedly fled restaurants without paying bills

Ann and Bernard McDonagh covering their faces outside the court
Ann and Bernard McDonagh covering their faces outside the court -Credit:WalesOnline

A couple have admitted leaving restaurants high and dry in a dine-and-dash scam. Bernard and Ann McDonagh ordered extravagant meals before abandoning the venues with unpaid bills.

Ann McDonagh has also been found guilty of shoplifting from multiple retailers which include Tesco Extra, Tommy Hilfiger, among others, leading to business losses exceeding £2,000.

The pair pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud at their appearance in Swansea Magistrates' Court on May 8. The court was told the couple ordered food and drink for themselves and their family at several eateries, exiting each time without settling the tab.

Public outcry followed when a CCTV image of the couple was shared on social media by one of the restaurants where they failed to pay. The duo reportedly dined at Bella Ciao restaurant in Swansea, on April 19 this year, accumulating a tab of £329.10 but had "no intention of paying for it," as reported by WalesOnline.

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They were also accused of disregarding a £196 bill at Isabella's restaurant in Porthcawl, on March 27, and a £267 bill at River House restaurant in Swansea, on August 9, 2023.

Other bills include a £99.40 tab at Golden Fortune in Port Talbot on January 31, 2024, and a £267.60 bill at La Casona restaurant in Skewen on February 24, 2024. Ann McDonagh, 39, also confessed to three counts of shoplifting.

She swiped £442 worth of clothing from a Tommy Hilfiger store at Bridgend Designer Outlet on February 3, 2024 without paying.

She returned on February 17, 2024, and nicked £49 worth of items again without paying. Ann lifted household items from a Tesco Extra store in Swansea valued at £426.60 without paying on September 6, 2023, and took items from Sainsbury's at Bridgend Designer Outlet worth £400 and left without paying on February 25, 2024.

Ann McDonagh admitted to obstructing a police officer in the execution of their duty at Queen's Road Police Station in Bridgend in February 2024. The court was told that the main aggravating factor in the case was the "presence of children" when multiple offences were committed.

District Judge Chris James sent the proceedings to Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on May 29. He granted both defendants unconditional bail and requested a pre-sentencing report be prepared for each of them.

Ann McDonagh, 41, and her accomplice Bernard have been exposed for dining and dashing at the newly-opened Bella Ciao on Castle Street, Swansea, in April, racking up an unpaid bill exceeding £329. Post-incident, manager Tyrone Reese recounted: "They were ordering the most expensive things on the menu like T-bone steaks and the like."

Their image was circulated on social media, prompting several other eateries to come forward with similar tales of deceit. A representative from La Casona in Skewen relayed their experience: "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."

The establishment suffered a loss of £300 due to the scam.

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