Restaurant delighted after couple brought to justice for ‘dine-and-dash’ runners

A restaurant is “delighted” that justice has caught up with a couple who committed serial “dine and dash” offences – racking up large bills for food and drink before leaving without paying.

Bernard McDonagh, 41, and Ann McDonagh, 39, both of Sandfields, Port Talbot, appeared before Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, where they pleaded guilty to five joint charges of fraud.

Charges detail how the pair dishonestly obtained food and drink for themselves and their family at four restaurants and one takeaway in the south Wales area, with the unpaid bills totalling £1,168.10.

It was alleged that the couple ate and drank at the eateries “having no intention of paying for” what they ordered.

Ann McDonagh also admitted four counts of shoplifting, including at designer store Tommy Hilfiger, taking items worth £1,017.60.

District Judge Chris James sent the case to Swansea Crown Court for sentence, which will take place on May 29.

Bernard McDonagh will be sentenced on May 29 (River House/PA)
Bernard McDonagh will be sentenced on May 29 (River House/PA)

The first restaurant on the charges was River House in Swansea, which the couple defrauded out of £267 of food and drink on August 9 last year.

In a social media post, the restaurant described how the pair ran up a “very hefty bill”, then promised to fetch money from a nearby cash point when their card was declined, but never returned.

Speaking after the case, a restaurant spokesman said: “We are delighted to hear that justice has, at last, caught up with the pair.

“We are grateful to the public who have not only been a huge help in tracking down these criminals, but also for their huge amount of support and messages of support.”

After that incident at River House, the McDonaghs targeted the Golden Fortune takeaway in Port Talbot, taking £99.40 of food and drink without paying on January 31.

The following month, on February 23, they did the same with £276.60 worth of meals from La Casona restaurant in Skewen.

On March 27, the couple dishonestly obtained £196 of food and drink from Isabella’s in Porthcawl.

They committed the same offence again on April 19, taking £329.10 of food and drink from Bella Ciao in Swansea.

In a post on Facebook at the time, Bella Ciao described how a woman tried to pay with a savings account card which was declined twice.

She told staff her son would wait inside while she brought a different card but he then received a phone call before leaving.

Bella Ciao described how the family had given a “fake” number to reserve a table at the restaurant.

“To do this to anyone is disgusting but to do this to a newly open restaurant is even worse,” the business wrote.

Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard the five offences, which both defendants admitted, totalled £1,168.10.

Ann McDonagh also pleaded guilty to four counts of shoplifting, totalling £1,017.60, relating to thefts at Tesco in Swansea, as well as Tommy Hilfiger and Sainsbury’s at Bridgend Designer Outlet.

The thefts took place between September 6 last year and February 25 this year.

She admitted one charge of wilfully obstructing a police officer in his duty at Queen’s Road police station in Bridgend on March 13.

District Judge Chris James sent the case to Swansea Crown Court for sentence on May 29.