A woman has been jailed for 18 months after she fraudulently claimed welfare payments amounting to €69,000.
The woman claimed the payments in carer’s allowance for minding her elderly mother in Cork while she was living in the UK and travelled to Barbados and Morocco.
Mary O’Callaghan appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing having gathered in the region of €19,000 in compensation.
At a previous hearing, Garda John Dineen stated that the 52-year-old used a large amount of money that she defrauded for foreign travel.
Defending O’Callaghan, Defence Barrister Nikki O’Sullivan stated that her client travelled to Barbados to attend a funeral.
Garda Dineen stated that the case involved O’Callaghan claiming payments for her mother in Cork while she was living in the UK while adding, “It came to the Department’s attention she was not living in the country. A Social Welfare inspector made various enquiries with Ryanair. He witnessed her flying in from Gatwick. And an investigation commenced.”
Although there was a reference to a much bigger number of charges, O’Callaghan was charged with and pleaded guilty to a total of 20 sample counts of theft.
O’Sullivan appealed for leniency for her client, who was a first-time offender while adding that she entered a guilty plea and was back and forth to her mother in Cork for the purposes of taking care of her.
Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin stated, “There is no doubt she knew what she was doing was fraudulent. It is an egregious type of offence. She knew she was not entitled to claim it. She was not even living in the country.”
He added that a custodial sentence was warranted given that such allowances are “hard-won”, even for people who deserve them.
Ó Donnabháin sentenced O’Callaghan to 18 months in prison.
IMAGE – “Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin.” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by infomatique