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Surgeon and his GP wife ‘staged burglary for £180k insurance claim’ after renovation of their £1mill

Culled from Daily Mail

A respected surgeon staged a burglary to make a £180,000 insurance claim because his spending was 'spiralling out of control', a court heard.

Anthony McGrath and his wife Anne-Louise were in 'dire financial straits' as they renovated their £1.1 million seven-bedroom house, it was claimed.

At the same time, they were paying £2,400 a month to rent a five-bedroom cottage where they lived with their four privately educated children.

Anthony McGrath and his wife Anne-Louise staged a burglary to make a £180,000 insurance claim because his spending was 'spiralling out of control', a court heard

In 2015, orthopaedic surgeon McGrath, 45, reported a break-in at the rented property, the jury was told.

The 95 items he claimed had been stolen included a 19th-century red marble fireplace, £35,000 Persian rug, two clocks, valuable antiques and jewellery.

But detectives became suspicious when they discovered he and his 44-year-old GP wife were 'tens of thousands of pounds in debt'.

Investigations revealed McGrath had hired a van and driven it to Somerville House, his family's large Georgian country home in Co Meath, near Dublin, around the time of the break-in, the court was told.

Photos of the missing fireplace were allegedly taken at the Irish property, raising suspicions.

The couple were in 'dire financial straits' as they renovated their £1.1 million seven-bedroom house in St Albans while paying £2,400 a month to rent a five-bedroom cottage

The couple were renovating a home in St Albans while paying rent on another property and for private education of their four children

Investigations revealed McGrath had hired a van and driven it to Somerville House, his family's large Georgian country home in Co Meath, near Dublin, around the time of the break-in

When they were arrested, officers searched the properties and found several items McGrath had reported stolen, it is claimed.

Prosecutor Charlene Sumnall said: 'In a nutshell, this case is all about greed. The Crown's case is that these offences were motivated by the defendants' desperate need for money.

'They were in dire financial straits and resorted to dishonest and fraudulent means to alleviate their pressing financial problems.'

The couple, who married in 2009, lived in Aberdeen and Southampton before McGrath began working at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north-west London.

In June 2012, they rented a property called The Garden Bothy in Bedfordshire for £2,400 a month.

The couple claimed £180,000 for 95 items which were 'stolen' including a 19th-century red marble fireplace, £35,000 Persian rug, two clocks, valuable antiques and jewellery

The doctors also gave evidence of the artwork that was supposedly stolen in a break-in of their property in Bedfordshire

When they were arrested, officers searched the properties and found several items McGrath had reported stolen, it is claimed

Photos of the missing fireplace were allegedly taken at the Irish property, raising suspicions of police officers

The McGraths said antique silver teapots and a chandelier were stolen from the rented cottage

The cottage, which once featured in an episode of Inspector Morse, is in the grounds of the Luton Hoo estate, a former stately home where the Queen and Prince Philip spent part of their honeymoon in 1947.

Seven months later, they bought a house for £1.1 million in St Albans, funded by an £825,000 mortgage from Lloyds Bank.

A further remortgage raised another £135,000 in June 2015. Mrs McGrath also obtained an £85,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property in Belfast that had belonged to her mother.

The court was told that McGrath earned £84,000 in 2012-13, while his wife reported earning nothing during that period.

Mr McGrath denies four charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice. His wife denies five fraud charges and one of perverting the course of justice.

The couple are said to have fallen into arrears on their rent, although they blamed non-payment on defects with the property.

Miss Sumnall told Luton Crown Court that, despite their huge overdraft, there was no 'reining in' of spending on the St Albans refurbishment, as well as 'antiques, cars, school fees and the like'.

She added: 'By late 2014, it was clear that the defendants were in significant financial difficulty. Their income was unable to keep up with their extensive outgoings.

'However, the defendants did own a substantial amount of valuable antiques, jewellery and other property.'

McGrath is said to have tried to sell some possessions before deciding to falsify the break-in, she added.

On April 15, 2015, the surgeon, who specialises in trauma cases, contacted police at 8.46pm to report the crime.

But the prosecution say 13 members of a conservation group visited the Luton Hoo estate during the day to repair a walled garden.

The respected orthopaedic surgeon denies four charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice. His wife denies five fraud charges and one of perverting the course of justice

Miss Sumnall said: 'The Crown suggests that the presence of over a dozen people in the open next to The Bothy make it strikingly unlikely that a team of professional burglars would have chosen to break in.'

Bedfordshire Police searching The Garden Bothy allegedly found items including a sapphire and diamond ring, a chess set and two Mont Blanc pens that had been reported stolen.

Officers also went to Somerville House with Garda police on November 26, 2015, and found the fireplace, the court heard.

During his police interview, McGrath was asked about his whereabouts during the burglary and replied he had been 'to-ing and fro-ing', the jury was told.

He claims the items that were found by police are 'merely similar' to those he reported stolen.

He denies four charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice. His wife denies five fraud charges and one of perverting the course of justice.

The case continues.

See the items that were reportedly stolen below:

My view: Why would they want to lose their intergrity and everything just for £180k, if the insurance claim was false, then it's Greed and nothing more, but I do believe there was a burglary but it was probably exaggerated. Why didn't they sell the items to help them with the massive debt? People purchase expensive antiques and jewellery, not just for personal use and decoration but also for the rainy day. It seems that the couple wants to allegedly have their cake and eat it, smells like greed to me.

If they were reality stars, integrity wouldn't mean anything because reality celebs damage their reputation everyday with nude pictures on Instagram.