36 years in prison for Leeds ‘water board’ crooks who preyed on elderly and vulnerable

Burglars, clockwise from top left, David Semeniuk, Daniel McDonagh, John Paul Semeniuk and Martin McDonagh.
Burglars, clockwise from top left, David Semeniuk, Daniel McDonagh, John Paul Semeniuk and Martin McDonagh.

A gang of heartless burglars who targeted the homes of vulnerable elderly residents across West Yorkshire by posing as water company officials have been jailed for a total of 36 years.

The four men were responsible for taking thousands of pounds of cash during 21 offences committed over a three-month period last summer.

Elderly residents in Leeds, Dewsbury, Batley, Wakefield, Cleckheaton, Huddersfield and Halifax were targeted during the offending.

Leeds Crown Court the men would often call at victims’ homes and claim that their properties were about to flood before demanding to be allowed in.

During some offences victims, some aged in their nineties, were told to stand with their hands on the kitchen sink taps while the gang members searched other rooms for cash and valauables.

One elderly victim had over £5,000 in cash stolen from her bedroom.

As they left, one of the burglars told her: “Make sure you lock your door. Be safe.”

Victims described how they had been left feeling unsafe in their homes.

Others stated they were unable to sleep properly following the offence and want to move home.

The gang used cars fitted with false number plates when travelling to commit offences and regularly changed their mobile phones to avoid being detected by police.

The four who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary were:

Daniel McDonagh, 24, of Raynville Crescent, Bramley, jailed for nine years, four months.

Martin McDonagh, 25, of no fixed address, jailed for nine years, four months.

John Paul Semeniuk, 33, of Beck Hill Gardens, Leeds, jailed for nine years, four months.

David Jason Semeniuk, 30, of Whitehall Green, Wortley, jailed for eight years.

Detective Sergeant James Bellhouse, of Kirklees Adult Safeguarding Unit, who led the investigation, said: “These men preyed on the most elderly and vulnerable in our communities, exploiting the trust of their many victims to gain access to their homes. This was a complex investigation with protracted enquiries carried out to link these four men to crimes across the West Yorkshire area.

“We welcome the significant custodial sentences they have received which reflect the scale and seriousness of the offences they have committed. We hope today’s sentencing also sends a strong message that the targeting of the vulnerable and elderly will not be tolerated and that the police and courts take a dim view of those involved in such offending.”