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Folkestone burglar Michael McDonagh caught after neighbour followed him from Romney Avenue crime scene

By Paul Hooper

A man heard his next door neighbour’s doorbell sound three times and decided to turn sleuth.

Kyle Maxwell knew the owner was away from her home in Romney Avenue, Folkestone, a court heard.

It was then that Mr Maxwell spotted a man leaving the property carrying two supermarket bags, so jumped into his car and followed and confronted him.

Michael McDonagh has been sent to prison. Picture: Kent Police
Michael McDonagh has been sent to prison. Picture: Kent Police

Although the thief fled, the neighbour’s actions in June eventually led to the arrest of long-time burglar Michael McDonagh who had stolen jewellery, including sentimental items, and computer games.

Now the daylight raider, of Cheriton Road, Folkestone, has been given a 44-month jail sentence at Canterbury Crown Court after admitting burglary.

McDonagh, 31, was arrested by police after officers were called to an incident at a house and had to talk him down from the roof on June 10.

Judge James O’Mahony – who praised the neighbour for being brave – told the burglar he had brought “a catalogue of misery” to the community.

Prosecutor Bridget Todd said McDonagh had convictions beginning 20 years ago and had been given numerous community orders for burglaries, assaults on police and thefts.

She said the owner had been alerted to the break-in by a text from police and returned to her home to discover it had been ransacked.

She told the judge in a victim impact statement she was “absolutely devastated” and had suffered sleepless nights since the incident.

His Honour Judge James O'Mahony.
His Honour Judge James O'Mahony.

In 2015, the father-of-four, who was living in Perrot Way, Hawkinge at the time, was jailed for 28 months after police found him with stolen First and Second World War medals.

McDonagh claimed he had bought the items, which had been taken during a burglary.
He admitted handling the stolen medals and also burgling a house in Cheriton High Street.

Judge O’Mahony, who was given a letter penned by McDonagh, told him: “You say you don’t victimise individuals. I understand you mean you don’t target people.

“But you victimise the public in general, causing misery.

“It is staggering the number of times you have been given chances, I lost count of the number of supervision sentences you have had to try to keep you away from serious crime.

“It has all been to no avail and the public is entitled to some respite from your activities.”

Investigating officer Det Con Michael Sedden said: "McDonagh was stopped by a brave neighbour and as a result he was easily identified.

"Among the property stolen were items of sentimental value, which can never be replaced and have left the victim feeling devastated.

"We hope residents are reassured that we will do everything in our power to investigate, charge and seek justice for anyone who suffers at the hands of opportunistic thieves like McDonagh."

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