Hampstead ‘smash and grab’ raider caught in the act is spared jail

Michael McDonagh outside Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. Picture: Polly Hancock

Michael McDonagh outside Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A man caught on camera attempting to raid a Hampstead shop will be at home for Christmas after magistrates suspended his prison sentence.

Michael McDonagh, 19, admitted attempting to burgle the Londis store, in South End Road, and allowing himself to be carried on a stolen moped.

His accomplice, Tony Moran, 23, also admitted attempted burglary and will be sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court tomorrow.

Highbury Magistrates heard McDonagh, of Sycamore Gardens, Tottenham, was one of four men spotted by police on two stolen mopeds riding at speed up Haverstock Hill at around 1:40am on November 19.

The officers, who were travelling in an unmarked car, followed them after becoming suspicious and alerted council CCTV operators who trailed the mopeds.

Margaret Bankole, prosecuting, said: “The officers followed them and as they drove into South End Road they saw the mopeds on the pavement with the four men wearing crash helmets outside the store.

“They saw one man smashing the front door of the shop with a sledge hammer, The other man, Michael McDonagh, was seen holding up the security shutters which were severely damaged. The other two males were acting as look-outs.

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She said: “As police officers pulled up next to them, the two men acting as look-outs jumped onto one of the mopeds and rode off.

“The other defendant, Moran, attempted to jump onto a moped but was caught, while McDonagh ran off. He was chased and eventually arrested by an officer.”

She said that police found garden bags, two crowbars and a sledge hammer on the pavement outside the shop.

Ms Bankole added: “CCTV footage clearly showed the four males forcing the shops shutters up and Moran using a sledge hammer to smash the glass door of the shop to gain entry.”

On his arrest McDonagh, who had two previous convictions for robbery in 2010, told police: “They made me do it.”

However magistrates said: “Clearly this was a very serious offence which passes the custody threshhold. You went equipped with the intention of committing burglary.”

After hearing from McDonagh’s defence solicitor that he was the main carer for his schizophrenic mother and had been “easily influenced after being caught up with a bunch of friends doing something he knows is wrong” magistrates sentenced him to an 18 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

They also ordered him to attend a 30-day “thinking skills programme” and a “rehabilitation activity” programme.

He will also wear an electronic tag and not be allowed out between 8pm and 6am every day for four weeks.

McDonagh was ordered to pay £500 compensation to Londis and a further £180 costs.

Tony Moran, 23, of no fixed abode, was remanded in custody and will appear at Blackfriars Crown Court for sentencing on December 23.