Monday 20 November 2017

Award-winning artist flew from London home to claim €43,000 dole here

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

AN award-winning Irish artist would regularly fly back to Ireland to claim dole payments before returning to her London home.

The revelation came as 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 over a four year period.

Judge Leo Malone warned Cork District Court that it was far too serious a matter and he 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 fully repaid the €43,000 in Dole payments fraudulently claimed from the Department of Social Protection.

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 began investigating a formal complaint from a senior Department of Social Protection official.

This involved the unlawful claiming of Job Seekers Allowance payments by someone resident outside the jurisdiction.

The investigation was underpinned by Ms Montague's Dole claim history and copies of flight logs obtained for the Cork-London route.

Det. Garda Harrington said Ms Montague was based in London but, it was alleged,would fly back to Cork so she could sign on for Job Seekers Allowance payments the following day.

She would then fly back to her London home 24 hours later having made the claim.

He told the court that, when arrested, Ms Montague made a full admission and co-operated with gardai.

Ms Montague of Cois Coillte, Tivoli, Cork pleaded guilty to a total of 17 charges brought following an investigation into the claiming of Job Seekers Allowance payments.

She was arrested on March 14 last and pleaded guilty to all 17 charges on her first court appearance.

The initial charge outlined that, over a three-month period from July 1 2008, she stole property, namely a Job Seekers Allowance payment of €2,495.42, from the Department of Social Protection.

This was claimed from the Department's offices at Hanover Street in Cork.

The next 15 charges outlined similar payment claims over a three month period, all involving a sum of €2,495.42.

The 17th charge outlined the claim of an amount of €3,743 for a three month period ending in October 2012.

Defence counsel, Joe Cuddigan, confirmed that the full amount involved had now been repaid and he asked Judge Malone to consider accepting jurisdiction in the matter.

The total amount referred to across the 17 charges is €43,669.72.

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 I am refusing jurisdiction," he said.

Ms Montague, who attended the brief hearing, did not address the court.

She will now appear before Cork Circuit Criminal Court next month.


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