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Chronic alcoholic avoids jail over €43,000 dole scam

AN ALCOHOLIC who drank 50 bottles of beer a day has avoided a jail term for "a dirty little scheme" of fraudulently claiming more than €43,000 in social welfare over a four-year period using his brother's identity.

The court heard that Martin Foley claimed roughly €188 in jobseeker's allowance every week using his brother's social welfare card.

Foley also claimed disability allowance during the same period. His brother, Brendan Foley, has been living in the UK since the mid-1980s and knew nothing of the fraud.

The judge said it was "quite remarkable" Foley was capable of drinking 120 units of alcohol daily and surviving. He accepted evidence that Foley regularly drank 50 bottles of beer and three bottles of vodka a day.

Foley (53), of Walnut Rise, Courtlands, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to nine counts of deceptively inducing another to make a payment of jobseeker's allowance, using a social welfare card in the name of Brendan Foley.

The offences happened at a post office on Drumcondra Road Lower and the social welfare office on King's Inns Street, between August 2007 and November 2011.

He also pleaded guilty to filling out a false ML10 identity form in the name of Brendan Foley at Whitehall garda station on March 5, 2011.

The Director of Public Prosecutions accepted these 10 sample counts from a total of 63 charges, and the remainder were taken into consideration.

Judge Donagh McDonagh described it as a "well thought out plan" and a "dirty little scheme".

He accepted Foley had since "got some class of grip" on his alcohol abuse but said he must make some form of recompense for the crime.

Judge McDonagh sentenced Foley to 18 months in prison, which he suspended in full on the condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years and repay the State €1,000 within 18 months.

Detective Garda Martin Doohan agreed with defending counsel Breffni Gordon that the money had been "squandered" and that Foley's home showed "no trappings of wealth".

Paul Carroll, prosecuting, said Foley was currently on an emergency welfare payment of €186 as his disability allowance payment was under investigation and had been stopped.

Irish Independent