A LOUTH father of five who fraudulently claimed almost €40,000 in social welfare payments under a false name has been jailed for six months.
Patrick Mongan (42), who was also claiming social welfare in his own name, used the money to fund a drink and drug habit triggered by family bereavements and mental health issues.
Mongan, of Newtown Meadows, Drogheda, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing cash, property of the Minister for Social Protection, at a Social Welfare Office, Navan Road, Cabra on dates between August 2007 and April 2011.
He has 15 previous district court convictions including road traffic and public order offences.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring said that deterrence was a particularly important factor in such cases. She referred to the case of Paul Begley who was jailed for a garlic importing scam but noted Begley had repaid a large amount of the defrauded money, unlike Mongan
Judge Ring noted that Mongan “deliberately, consciously and with forethought went out to steal money from the State and, by extension, the people.”
She said this was especially serious in these economic times and that the money could have been used by families or disabled people.
She imposed an 18 month term but suspended the final 12 months. The court heard Mongan had €1000 in court as a “down payment” on the money he took.
Sergeant Brendan Bergin told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that in January 2011 gardai were contacted by a social welfare inspector who was reviewing a claim they believed to be fraudulent.
Gardai retrieved CCTV footage from the social welfare office of the person making the claim and believed it to be Mongan. Gardai were then alerted when the man came to sign on.
Gardai were satisfied that the man was Mongan passing himself off under a false name. They cautioned him and Mongan made some admissions claiming he was collecting the money on behalf of a friend and sending it to him in the UK.
Documents supporting the claim had been handed in to the office including a birth certificate and application form in the false name with a photograph of Mongan.
Mongan had fraudulently claimed a total of €39,741.30 by way of monthly visits between August 15, 2008 and April 20, 2011.
Gardai obtained the signing on receipts and found fingerprints belonging to Mongan.
Judge Ring asked Sgt Bergin why Mongan was not claiming in his own name and he replied "he was."
Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said Mongan had suffered a series of tragic bereavements in his family and had turned to drink and drugs as well as suffering mental health issues.
Mr Le Vert said Mongan had taken the money to fund his serious drink and drug problems.
He accepted a probation report outlined Mongan was at high risk of re-offending but said his client was taking it upon himself to address the risk factors in the report and had come a considerable way towards rehabilitating himself.
Mr Le Vert said Mongan had addressed his alcohol and drug difficulties and was also attending mental health services. He submitted Mongan was doing his best to make matters right so he will not reoffend and nothing like this will happen again.
He said Mongan would be in a position to offer a small sum on a weekly basis towards repaying the money and there were no health issues that would prevent him carrying out community service.