Friday 19 October 2018

Dad of six previously convicted of IRA membership avoids jail sentence for social welfare fraud

The Special Criminal Court
The Special Criminal Court

Declan Brennan

A father of six who was previously convicted of membership of the IRA has avoided a jail sentence for social welfare fraud.

Patrick Brennan (50) was jailed for four years in February 2005 after the Special Criminal Court found him guilty of membership of an illegal organisation in 2002.

Today Brennan, of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin, West Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dishonestly inducing a person to approve an application for supplementary welfare allowance under another name, Christopher Brennan.

Garda Gemma Collins told Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that Brennan had used his late brother's birth certificate to claim welfare payments under his brother's name.

The fraudulent payments were made from October to December 2010 and totalled €2,548. They stopped on foot of an investigation.

Judge Terence O'Neill  suspended a sentence of two years on condition that Brennan make weekly payments of €25 to the Department of Social Protection until the full amount is repaid.

The court heard that a community welfare officer had authorised the payments to Mr Brennan despite the fact that the officer had a copy of the death certificate for the late brother. When the officer put this document to the accused, Mr Brennan appeared indifferent and said he needed money and had no other means.

The payments were then authorised but investigations continued and the payments were stopped in December 2010.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said her client is on disability allowance and is a family man with significant health issues. He has two children sitting college exams this month, with one doing the Leaving Certificate exams.

Judge O'Neill said this was not a victimless crime and required planning. He said the amount involved was small because Brennan was caught. He said the State's purse was out because none of the money had been repaid.

He said he is aware the sentence will cause Brennan significant hardship and accepts that the accused is not a man of means.

Brennan has committed no offences since this fraud, the court heard.

Irish Independent

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