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Couple admit ‘dine and dash’ offences worth more than £1,000 at five restaurants

08 May 2024 3 minute read
£276.60 worth of meals were ordered from La Casona restaurant in Skewen. Photo via Google

A couple from Port Talbot have admitted a series of “dine and dash” offences in which they racked up large bills at restaurants before leaving without paying.

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

Charges detail how the pair first dishonestly obtained £267 of food and drink for themselves and their family at the River House restaurant in Swansea on August 9 last year, “having no intention of paying for it”.

They ordered £99.40 of food and drink from the Golden Fortune takeaway in Port Talbot without paying on January 31, doing the same with £276.60 worth of meals from La Casona restaurant in Skewen on February 23.

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.

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.

He told the defendants: “Both of you will attend for your sentence at Swansea Crown Court on May 29.

“Until then, you are granted bail. It is not subject to conditions but you must attend Swansea Crown Court at 10am on May 29.

“If you fail to do so, you commit a further offence. I will, in both of your cases, direct a pre-sentence report given the issues that have been raised.”

Lisa Jones appeared for the prosecution during the hearing, while Giles Hayes represented both defendants.

South Wales Police previously confirmed the pair had been charged with the offences in April “following reports of several incidents of non-payment of restaurant bills and shoplifting”.

The case emerged after newly opened Bella Ciao in Swansea reported that a family had left without paying a bill worth £329.


Writing on Facebook, the restaurant described how a woman tried to pay with a savings account card which was declined twice.

She then told staff her son would wait inside while she went to fetch a different card.

The post said: “… of course she does not return and then the son receives a phone call and says he has to go and does a runner.”

It described how the family had given a “fake” number to reserve a table at the restaurant, meaning the incident was reported to the police.

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

The River House also posted on Facebook about the couple, stating that they had racked up a £270 bill before leaving without paying.

Writing last August, the restaurant said: “They run up a very hefty bill (for 5) and ‘promised’ to get cash from the local cash point after their card got declined.

“We like to put trust in some people, but this was obviously carefully planned as they all just disappeared.”

Bernard McDonagh and Ann McDonagh will next appear before Swansea Crown Court on May 29.

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