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25 April 2013, 12:20
A man who targeted elderly people across the country, including in Hertfordshire, has been jailed for 8 years.
48 year old Bernard McDonagh, who is of no fixed abode, appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday 23rd April admitting over 30 offences of distraction burglary.
McDonagh was arrested on 2nd April following a call to a house in Rickmansworth at around 7pm. McDonagh had conned his way into the home of an elderly couple by stating he was investigating a water leak and needed to carry out further investigations. Whilst inside the property he stole cash from a handbag.
Upon arrival officers conducted a search of the area and McDonagh was seen making off from a neighbouring property, having committed a distraction burglary there.
Earlier the same day he had committed a distraction burglary at the home of a couple on their 90s in St Albans. Claiming to be a police officer investigating a suspected intruder, he accessed their property and whilst inside, removed cash.
Upon entering custody, the specialist team, Operation Manhunt, who investigate all offences of distraction burglary in the county, took on the investigation and uncovered a number of other crimes which he subsequently admitted to.
McDonagh pleaded guilty to six offences of distraction burglary which occurred in Hertfordshire, Kent and in the West Midlands. He also asked for a further 26 offences he had committed to be taken into consideration at court. These offences occurred in Hertfordshire (Hemel Hempstead and St Albans), Kent, Sussex, London, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Bedfordshire and Hampshire, which were committed between November 2012 and April 2013.
McDonagh was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.
Speaking after court, DC Jason Tinsey from Operation Manhunt said: “This is a great result and means that a predatory offender is off the streets and prevented from targeting anyone else.
“Upon sentencing Judge Bright commented that he was ‘a menace to the elderly and vulnerable’. McDonagh had no consideration for the devastating effects these crimes had on his victims. He ruthlessly picked upon these people because of their more trusting nature, for his own selfishness.
“The consequences of this type of incident on a victim can be devastating so we ensure all victims are given specialist support, however it is best to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place. So I would use this opportunity to remind people to be wary of who is knocking at their door. We would always advise people never to open the door to someone who they are not expecting and call police immediately if you are suspicious or have concerns.”