Victim's picture of iPhone fraudster at Walton Street Market led to his conviction
A MAN who conned someone into handing over £600 for bottles of water was caught after his victim took a picture of him on a mobile phone.
Srajunas Sakalausicas handed over the cash believing he was buying three Apple iPhones and a laptop.
But when he opened a bag handed to him by Patrick McDonagh, he discovered three bottles of water.
McDonagh was caught after the image of him taken by Mr Sakalausicas, of north Hull, was published as part of the Mail's Caught on Camera campaign.
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Detective Sergeant Lee Higo, who investigated the offence, said: "That picture was the key evidence that led to this crime being detected.
"The victim took a picture of the offender and of the car registration.
"Without that picture, McDonagh would not have been brought to justice."
The image was seen on the Mail's website by a British Transport Police officer in Lancashire, where McDonagh lives.
The officer then contacted Humberside Police to identify McDonagh, who has since admitted fraud.
McDonagh, 23, was arrested in his hometown of Blackburn.
Detectives from Humberside Police met Lancashire Police officers on the M62, where McDonagh was handed over.
He later appeared at Hull Magistrates' Court, where he admitted fraud by false representation. The incident happened on June 17 at Walton Street Market in west Hull.
Det Sgt Higo said: "The victim was asked if he wanted to buy a laptop and some iPhones. A price was agreed and they went to get money from a cashpoint and then exchanged the money for the bag.
"Once McDonagh had got away, the victim discovered all the bag contained was three bottles of water.
"The victim was Eastern European and did not speak brilliant English, so I think he has taken advantage of that and they have fallen for it.
"Despite that, they had the sense to take a picture, which led to him being caught."
Officers believe McDonagh could be part of a travelling gang that has been committing similar offences across the country, including two others in Hull.
On June 23, a man was approached at Kingston Retail Park and offered an iPad for sale but after handing over cash he found the box only contained a bottle of water.
A third victim was targeted outside Sainsbury's in Spring Bank just days later when a man handed over cash for an iPhone to find the box contained potatoes.
McDonagh was given a 12-month community order by magistrates and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work.
He was ordered to pay £600 in compensation to Mr Sakalausicas as well as £300 in court costs.