This woman drove a taxi and took holidays to the US. She also claimed €31,000 in illness benefit
Published 29/08/2011 | 05:00
A WOMAN who worked as a taxi driver, bought new cars, and jetted to the US and Italy also claimed around €31,000 in illness benefits from the State.
Mary Farrell began claiming benefits after suffering whiplash when her car was hit by a bus.
And she later tried to sue Dublin Bus for €410,000 in damages over the collision.
However, it emerged during proceedings that she had been working two jobs while claiming illness benefit.
Ms Farrell admitted in the High Court last year that she drove a taxi and worked in a fish-and-chip shop when she claimed she was not fit to work.
Her case was dismissed after a video tape of her mowing her lawn for 40 minutes was played in court.
The court was also told she bought a new Toyota Corolla in 2006 for between €26,000 and €28,000, even though she said her only income at the time was illness benefit of €148 per week.
Ms Farrell also agreed she had bought a €6,700 taxi plate in October 2007.
Ms Farrell refused to say whether she paid back the benefit she received during the four-year period when she claimed she couldn't work.
"Oh, would you go jump in a lake, would you?" she said when approached by the Irish Independent.
A sticker on her car's rear windscreen showed a naked picture of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen eating a bunch of grapes with the slogan: "Pig out -- the sheep are paying."
Ms Farrell confirmed she planned to appeal the verdict in the compensation case, before closing the door in her home in the Tolka Valley Green estate in Finglas, Dublin.
Dublin Bus could not be contacted for comment.
The court was also told she bought a new black Toyota Avensis car in 2005 at a cost of "€25,000 or €26,000" on hire purchase.
She stated in evidence that she flew to the US twice a year between 1999 and 2007.
Most of her visits lasted for around 10 days and each flight cost between €600 and €800.
Ms Farrell also stated in evidence that she flew to Italy at least once a year on holiday.
Mr Justice John Quirke dismissed her compensation claim against Dublin Bus.
The judge said he had been given no evidence which explained Ms Farrell's "comfortable lifestyle" between 2004 and 2008 when she was claiming social welfare.
The Department of Social Protection refused to say if it had asked Ms Farrell to pay back the €31,000.
"The department does not comment on individual cases," a spokeswoman said.
But she added the department's policy was to recover all monies paid in fraud-related cases.
Ms Farrell received a damages award of €2,500 to compensate her for injuries suffered in a road traffic accident in 1995.
She got €18,000 for further injuries in a road accident in 1999.
But she did not tell three of the doctors who examined her that she had been involved in those traffic accidents and had suffered those injuries.
Ms Farrell also received €5,620 from Dublin Bus to compensate her for damage to her car for the accident in 2004.