MIRROR Online: LONDON, England – A serial “dine and dash” couple has been jailed after they gorged themselves on more than £1,000 worth food and drink during a dine-and-dash spree.

        Bernard McDonagh, 41, was sentenced to eight months and his wife Ann, 39, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

        The father-of-six’s advocate told the court he was “deeply embarrassed and ashamed” and said he brought cash to court to pay everything back. Judge Paul Thomas KC told the defendants that their action put the livelihood of business owners at risk as many restaurants are financially struggling. He says from everything he has read he is satisfied that Ann McDonagh was the leading figure in the restaurant frauds, and he brands her a “fluent and practised liar”.

        The couple previously pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud when they appeared at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on May 8. The total value of items taken from restaurants by the couple on was £1,168. And the total value of the items stolen from the shops by Ann McDonagh was £1,017.

        A judge heard Ann also admitted to four counts of theft by shoplifting and that these related to Tommy Hilfiger clothing worth £500 that she didn’t pay for at Bridgend Designer Outlet on February 3 and February 17 this year.

        She also pleaded guilty to obtaining household items from a Tesco Extra store in Swansea to the value of £426.60 and leaving without paying on September 6, 2023, and obtaining items from Sainsbury’s at Bridgend Designer Outlet to the value of £400 and leaving without paying on February 25, 2024. Ann McDonagh also pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer in the course of their duty at Queen’s Road Police Station in Bridgend in February 2024. Ann McDonagh also lied to police while in custody saying she was nine months pregnant and demanded to be released. However, she was not pregnant.

        A photo of Ann at the restaurant

        The couple racked up bills worth hundreds of pounds and bailed without paying – Bella Ciao Swansea/Facebook

        Footage went viral online shortly after the couple, part of a party of eight, left the Bella Ciao Italian restaurant in Swansea without paying their £329 bill. The family scoffed pricey T-bone steaks and guzzled down 15 bottles of pop before they ran out on the bill. The court heard the couple booked the table under the fake name ‘Lucy Logan’. When it came to pay for the bill, Ann McDonagh made an unsuccessful attempt to pay by card and told staff she woudl get cash from their vehicle. Another member of the group stayed behind but got a phone call and ran out saying ‘”Oh! I’ll be there now”.

        Andrew Evans, for Ann McDonagh, said the motivation for the defendant’s offending history was not clear, and even an experienced probation officer had been unable to get to the root cause. He said while the couple had ordered the most expensive steaks and desserts on the restaurant menus the reality was much of the food was uneaten. The advocate says it might be that in going to the establishments she would not usually go to and ordering food she would not usually order his client had been trying to make herself feel better in some way.

        Manager Tyrone Reese previously told The Mirror sent plates back half-eaten before devouring double deserts. He added: “My wife said ‘Something’s not right.’ They went full-on with their order but they were also sending plates back half empty.”

        But the brazen incident sparked ire online, with a video of the dine and dash attracting more than 12 million views in just a few hours. The widespread sharing of the footage led other restaurants in Wales to reveal they had also been exploited by the couple.

        On January 31 this year, the couple ordered a £100 Chinese takeaway meal from the Golden Fortune in Taiback, Port Talbot, which they refused to pay. WalesOnline reported, after the food was handed over, they closed the door and no payment was made.

        La Carsona, near Neath, said it had been left to cover extensive costs after the couple ducked out on paying a bill worth £300. In a post previously shared on X, formerly Twitter, the restaurant said: “On February 23, six people visited our restaurant and left without paying almost £300. All restaurants reported it to the police, will we get any response? Will justice be served? We don’t think so…”

        A still image of Bernard and Ann with family at a restaurant

        Bernard (top left in grey top) and Ann (top right) sparked outrage online over the dine and dash

        The post went on: “Our story: After the meal, four people have already left the 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 her 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. We called the police as soon as it happened.”

        The Yard, in Cowbridge, shared a similar dine and dash happened at its restaurant where a bill of about £150 was left unpaid. The restaurant wrote online: “Honestly so gutted and can’t believe people can have the heart to do this… The whole thing was very well planned out, they must do it often.

        A photo of Ann outside court

        Ann pleaded guilty to an additional string of charges – Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror

        Top Feature Photo: The dine and dash couple appeared outside court today for their sentencing – Kara Thomas /Athena Pictures