Saturday 21 October 2017

Social welfare fraudster ordered to leave country

Louise Roseingrave

A MAN from Zimbabwe caught fraudulently claiming social welfare in Cork received a 10 month suspended sentence yesterday.

Victor Thomas (34) a father of two, was ordered to leave the country by midnight on Monday after he was caught claiming more than €6,000 in fraudulent benefits.

Judge Angela Ni Chonduin told Victor Thomas (34) that she'd 'prefer never to see him again.'

Mr Thomas, a father of two resident in the UK, claimed social welfare in the form of rent allowance, child benefit and single parent payments for his young son Liam.

He was found guilty on three charges of dishonesty by deception at Fermoy District Court yesterday. The total fraudlent claim amounted to €6,114.50

The court heard that Thomas was resident in the UK but had been 'coming back and forth regularly' by plane and ferry to Ireland since last September.

"He is originally from Zimbabwe but had been living in Ireland. His partner moved to England, but he continued to claim," Insp Tony O'Sullivan told the court.

He claimed benefit for his six-year-old son Liam, who is resident in the UK and rent allowance for an apartment at Riversdale in Rathcormac, Co Cork, Insp O'Sullivan said.

"He was claiming under false assumption that he was a lone parent looking after Liam," Insp O'Sullivan said. "He should have notified the authorities when he left."

Thomas' solicitor, Ciarain O'Keeffe presented to the court a social welfare cheque posted to Apt 4 Riversdale dated May 28 for the amount €78.80.

He said Thomas had a cheque for €2,000 to repay the state for its losses along with a bail bond for a further €2,000. Mr Thomas had tried but failed to present a higher amount as compensation to the court, Mr O'Keeffe said.

"He was working (in Ireland) for a while, then started a course in Cork. Money ran low and unfortunately he carried out this act," Mr O'Keeffe said.

He said his client was anxious to get back to England to his two children, aged 6 years and six months old.

"He is anxious to get back. He has moved to the UK, his family is there, although I don't know if he has any job prospects there now," Mr O'Keeffe said.  

The court heard Mr Thomas had no cash on him when he was arrested by Gardai on arrival into Ireland and had no previous convictions.

Judge Ni Chonduin said the matter was a 'very serious one' and sentenced him to 10 months in prison, suspended on the grounds that he leave voluntary and not return for two years.

"I'd prefer not to see him ever again," the judge said. She ordered Thomas to leave the country before midnight on Monday and said even that was 'a long time' for him to remain.

"If he is here after midnight on Monday he'll be arrested," the judge said.

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