Artist in €43,000 dole scam must face higher court
AN award-winning Irish artist would regularly fly back to Ireland to claim dole payments before returning to her London home.
A district court judge refused to accept jurisdiction in the case against Sibyl Montague (33), who pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming over €43,000 from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) over a four-year period while resident outside the State.
Judge Leo Malone told Cork District Court that it was far too serious a matter and refused jurisdiction, insisting the case be dealt with before the Circuit Criminal Court.
This means that the potential fines and penalties imposed can be much heavier.
Ms Montague has now repaid the full amount of €43,669.72.
She has been remanded to appear before the next sessions of Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a signed plea of guilty.
Judge Malone was told by Detective Garda Padraig Harrington that they received a formal complaint from a senior DSP official.
The investigation was underpinned by copies of flight logs from the Cork-London route.
Det Gda Harrington told the court that, when arrested on March 14, Ms Montague made a full admission and co-operated with gardai. Ms Montague of Cois Coillte, Tivoli, Cork, pleaded guilty to all 17 charges on her first court appearance.
The charges related to dates between July 2008 and October 2012.
Defence counsel, Joe Cuddigan, confirmed that the full amount had now been repaid and he asked Judge Malone to consider accepting jurisdiction.
Judge Malone was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicated the matter could be dealt with at district court level if there was a guilty plea.
Otherwise, the DPP said the matter would have to be dealt with by judge and jury in Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
However, Judge Malone refused to deal with the matter. "It is too serious... so I am refusing jurisdiction," he said.
Ms Montague did not address the court. She will now appear before Cork Circuit Criminal Court next month.