Friday 21 September 2018

Civil servant stole €6,500 from dole in brother's name

Jacqueline Walsh, from Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to stealing money from the Department of Social Protection. Photo: Courtpix
Jacqueline Walsh, from Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to stealing money from the Department of Social Protection. Photo: Courtpix

Isabel Hayes

A civil servant stole more than €6,500 in fake jobseeker's allowance claims under her brother's name.

Jacqueline Walsh, a mother of four, was brought to the attention of gardaí by her brother, William Walsh, after he had tried to get some tax back from Revenue and discovered that false claims had been made under his name.

Walsh (33), with an address in Millbrook Lawns, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday to four counts of stealing money from the Department of Social Protection between October 2011 and May 2012. Eight other counts were taken into consideration.

She stole €6,736 over nine months while working in the Tallaght branch of the Department of Social Protection, Det Garda Colin Rochford told prosecution barrister Karl Finnegan BL.

Walsh was working in the department at the time and accessed details in relation to her brother's PPS number.

Det Garda Rochford said that three claims were made in the name of William Walsh under three different staff members' user names within the department.

None of these user names belonged to Jacqueline Walsh.

The court heard that a culture existed in the Tallaght office in 2011 whereby computers were regularly left unlocked and employees could access each other's user names.

Walsh resigned from the department shortly before her offending came to light in 2015. When interviewed by gardaí, she said she did not have the expertise to carry out the claims, but admitted to receiving the money into her account.

This was rebuffed by her superior, who told gardaí that Walsh was competent at accessing the claims system.

Det Garda Rochford agreed with defence barrister Kieran Kelly BL that gardaí had been unable to prove who carried out the claims.

The court heard that Walsh, who is on bail, has no previous convictions, save for some minor road-traffic offences. None of the stolen money was recovered.

Defence counsel said Walsh has four young children, two of whom have health issues. She is on maternity leave and is receiving maternity benefit.

Her partner is a full-time carer for his father. They struggle financially and are in arrears on their mortgage.

Mr Kelly said Walsh was remorseful for her actions. "Ordinarily, she is a good person and she wants to move forward," he said.

Judge Karen O'Connor ordered a probation report and adjourned the matter for sentencing on December 6.

Irish Independent

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