A doctor jailed for staging a burglary, and committing mortgage fraud worth nearly £1 million has been ordered to repay the money he made illegally.

Surgeon Anthony McGrath, 48, of Clarence Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, was jailed for eight years in January 2019, after a Bedfordshire Police investigation found he had attempted to swindle his insurance company out of £180,000 by staging a burglary at a house he and his wife were renting.

McGrath claimed almost 100 items had been stolen, including a Persian rug worth £35,000, valuable antiques and clocks, and a 19th century red marble rococo fire surround, with ormolu inserts.

The fake burglary then led police to uncover three counts of mortgage fraud. False tax returns in the couple’s name had been sent to the bank, and copies were discovered in their study, with Anthony McGrath’s finger-prints on them.

The investigation was later featured in an episode of the BAFTA-nominated documentary series 24 Hours in Police Custody.

After the initial police operation concluded, specialist financial investigators from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) began enquiries to ensure McGrath was forced to repay his ill-gotten gains.

At a Luton Crown Court hearing on Friday (26 March 2021), HHJ Evans found McGrath’s benefit to be £974,144, noting him to be a ‘thoroughly dishonest witness, quite prepared to manipulate and forge evidence and to tell lies in court’.

Under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation, he was ordered to repay the amount he currently has available, £564,518.97, comprising cash and antiques left to him from the estate of his parents in Ireland, a 50 per cent share of equity in his St Albans home, a car, and antiques, art and valuables.

McGrath must pay back the amount in full by 26 June, or face an additional five years in prison and still need to pay the full amount.

Senior Financial Investigation Manager Paul Fitzsimmons, from ERSOU’s Financial Investigation Team (FIT), said:

“This was a complex investigation into a compulsive liar, determined to maintain his denial of involvement in any criminality in the face of clear and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

“Despite arguing he shouldn’t have to pay back a penny, McGrath was found by our specialist financial investigators to be in possession of assets worth significant sums, however he continued to once again waste significant police time and resources across an extended period to prolong the inevitable.

“Our team works tirelessly across the region to ensure known criminals are forced to repay the money they’ve made through illegal means. We’ll continue to investigate McGrath’s assets in the future to ensure that, should be able to pay back more towards his known criminal gains, he does so.”

At the time of McGrath’s sentencing, Detective Constable Dave Brecknock, who led Bedfordshire Police’s investigation, said:

“Despite the complexities of the case, the motive was simple – this conniving and deceitful man intentionally broke the law in order to gain hundreds of thousands of pounds. But this goes to show that no matter who you are, how clever you think you might be, you cannot get away with breaking the law.

“If you commit crime for your financial gain then you will naturally leave some kind of evidential trail behind you, as was the case with McGrath, and this result proves just how determined and thorough we will be in the pursuit of justice.”