TWO Irish men who targeted vulnerable elderly people in more than 40 “despicable” burglaries across England have been jailed for a total of 12 years.
Michael McDonagh and Patrick Connors travelled up and down Britain to commit their crimes, smashing windows and posing as customers, relatives or gas engineers to prey on frail old people at home.
In most cases the two men took cash, jewellery and electrical items while their victims were in the buildings. The pair looted a total of £100,000 in 42 burglaries between September 2012 and January this year.
McDonagh, 32, and Connors, 20, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle the properties at Bristol Crown Court last week. McDonagh was jailed for seven years, while Connors, who also pleaded guilty to money laundering, was sent to a young offenders institution for five years.
Both men have strong links to Ireland and were identified by witnesses on the basis of their Irish accents.
The court also heard that Connors was arrested with £2,200 on February 2 at Pembroke Docks as he tried to board a ferry to Ireland.
In terrifying CCTV footage played to the court, the two men were shown ransacking the living rooms of two pensioners as they sat powerless to resist.
The images were captured by cameras installed in the homes of the vulnerable elderly people after they had been targeted previously.
McDonagh and Connors burgled homes in nine different counties as far apart as Cornwall and Lincolnshire. During their four-month spree, they paid £56,000 into a bank account held by Connors. The account, which still contains around £37,000, has been frozen by police.
“These criminals preyed on the most vulnerable members of our society, carrying out despicable violent burglaries,” said Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, where 17 of the offences took place.
“Although incidents like this are thankfully rare, it shows the importance of looking out for vulnerable family members and neighbours.
“It is important that we raise awareness and increase vigilance within communities.”
Detective Inspector Tina Robinson of Avon and Somerset Police added: “All burglaries can have a serious emotional impact, but these crimes are all the more shocking as the victims were some of society’s most vulnerable.”