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By Jay Unger
Four men from Leeds have been sentenced collectively to more than 30 years in prison for targeting elderly residents for their parts in a burglary scam.
Convicted of conspiracy to commit dwelling house burglary by using distraction tactics over the course of three months last year – Leeds crown court heard how the men targeted vulnerable pensioners with 24 offences taking place between May (14th) and July (9th).
Outlining details of the case, the court heard how the men would distract residents by using the excuse that they were from the Yorkshire water board or were installing a washing machine for a neighbour, in order to gain access to the house.
Once inside, one member of the gang would ask the occupant to watch the running taps in the kitchen whilst one or two others would rifle through possessions in the rest of the house.
In one case, one of them men, after stealing over £5,000 from an elderly lady, told the Huddersfield resident she may be at risk of floods, so she should ‘make sure to lock the door to be safe.’
The total cash value to be taken from the burglaries was £7,255, but didn’t take into account other possessions stolen such as jewellery, with the prosecution highlighting some of the sentimental value some of the belongings may have had.
Attempting to ‘thwart detection’ from authorities, the gang was told to have regularly swapped vehicles and taken out mobile phone sim cards so their whereabouts couldn’t be traced.
The four men, pleading guilty before the case was set to trial, led to a swift sentencing by the honourable Judge Rodney Jameson QC, who said: “In general terms, the lasting affect of your actions have caused victims to become more cautious and less trusting. Essentially, these offences have been life altering for some of those you have offended against.”
Martin McDonagh, 25, of Copperfield drive in Cross Green, Daniel McDonagh, 24, of Trafford avenue in Harehills and John Semenuik, 33, of Copperfield Crescent in Cross Green were all found guilty for their part and were sentenced to 9 years and 4 months each.
David Semenuik, 28, of Whitehall Green in Wortley was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary, and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.