Beds, Herts & Bucks

Fraud surgeon who claimed break-in at Luton home keeps items

Dr Anthony McGrath Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The prosecution said Anthony McGrath was motivated by a desperate need for money

Thousands of pounds worth of antiques that a hospital surgeon claimed had been stolen from him are still "under his control", despite him being jailed.

Anthony McGrath, 46, staged a break-in at his home in Luton and committed mortgage fraud and was given an eight-year prison sentence in January.

Items in fraud cases would normally be held in police evidence stores.

Bedfordshire Police have said it was an "unusual case", but they did not seize them due to their high value.

Image copyright 24 Hours in Police Custody
Image caption Anthony McGrath was filmed by 24 Hours In Police Custody being arrested at his home on the Luton Hoo Estate

Det Con Dave Brecknock said the force decided "not to seize the antiques, due to their high value and delicacy" and extensively document them instead - a decision based on the fact McGrath had not benefitted financially from his actions in relation to these items.

"Instead, they remain with the McGrath family under Mr McGrath's control," the detective said.

However, he also explained the surgeon had been served with a notice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which meant he cannot dispose of any items by sale or gift.

McGrath, who lived at Smallford in St Albans, can still move them elsewhere.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption A £30,000 French red marble fireplace that was reported stolen had been installed at the McGrath family home in Ireland in 2010

In the case, which was featured on Channel 4's 24 Hours in Police Custody, McGrath, who was based at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore in north west London, claimed 95 items worth £182,612.50 had been stolen from the 19th Century cottage he was renting on the Luton Hoo Estate in 2015.

His trial heard he had huge debts and when the surgeon later sent photographs of some of the the items to police, data accompanying each image showed they were taken three months after the alleged break-in.

Latitude and longitude information also showed the photos were taken at the McGrath family home in Co Meath, Ireland.

Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Det Con Dave Brecknock was pictured standing next to the fireplace he found in Ireland

In addition to his fraudulent insurance claim, he submitted three fraudulent mortgage applications to secure more than £1m on two properties.

He denied all the charges, but was found guilty of four counts of insurance fraud, perverting the course of justice and three counts of mortgage fraud.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) application has been made, and a hearing is due later this year.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption McGrath hoped his scam would raise enough to finish renovations on his £1.1m property in St Albans - which has since been found structurally unsound

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