‘They were truly despicable offences of the most appalling type’ – Brothers jailed after posing as water board officials and police to rob elderly people in Royston and Stevenage

William O'Donoghue

William O'Donoghue - Credit: Archant

Two brothers who posed as water board officials and police officers to break into homes in towns including Stevenage and Royston have been jailed for a total of 21 years.

Michael O'Donoghue

Michael O'Donoghue - Credit: Archant

William and Michael O’Donoghue were told by a judge at St Albans Crown Court that their deceptions against elderly vulnerable victims were “despicable”.

Prosecutor Neil King told the court that 19 homes were targeted between August and October 2014.

The victims were aged between 73 and 99, and eleven of them lived in sheltered accommodation.

The burglars used an NHS lanyard as a form of identification to convince the home owners they were genuine.

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Mr King said a victim in Torquay Crescent, Stevenage, was suffering from chronic arthritis. Two addresses in Royston were targeted and at one in Mill Road, an 88-year-old woman was shoved out of the way by the burglars.

William O’Donoghue, 32, of Croxley View, Watford, pleaded guilty on the day of the trial to conspiracy to burgle and robbery. He had 31 convictions for 79 offences.

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Michael O’Donoghue, 39, of no fixed address, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to burgle. He had 30 convictions for 77 offences.

Defending Michael O’Donoghue, Simon Ralph said he only became involved in the last eight offences in October 2014.

Will Noble, for William O’Donoghue, said he had been in custody since April last year and had attended drug and alcohol awareness courses in prison.

Judge Andrew Bright QC, said: “This was a campaign of distraction burglaries committed over three months.

“They were truly despicable offences of the most appalling type. You targeted elderly vulnerable victims in the daylight hours.”

William O’Donoghue was jailed for 12 years – 10 for the conspiracy and two for the robbery. Michael O’Donoghue was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Co-defendant Thomas Hannifin, 24, is currently serving a sentence of 11 years six months for the conspiracy to burgle and robbery offences.

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