Thursday 21 November 2019

Dad used six false IDs to make €478k in social welfare claims

Dad-of-four used false IDs to fraudulently claim almost half a million euro
Dad-of-four used false IDs to fraudulently claim almost half a million euro

Jessica Magee

A FATHER-of-four who used false IDs to fraudulently claim almost half a million euro in social welfare payments over 12 years is to be sentenced today.

David Church, of Parnell Street, Dublin 1, and formerly Monadreen, Thurles, Co Tipperary, faced 199 charges of unlawfully claiming Jobseekers' Allowance and Rent Allowance at various post offices around Dublin between September 2002 and July 2013.

The 39 year-old pleaded guilty to 13 sample counts representing all the offences at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

In total, Church stole €478,052 from the State, which Judge Martin Nolan said averaged at about €40,000 a year over the period of offending.

The court heard Church had drunk or gambled a lot of the money and had no accumulated wealth when he was arrested in July 2013.

The fraud came to light after the Department of Social Protection used facial recognition software to establish that the same photo was being used on a number of social welfare identities.

Detective Garda Colin Rochford said Church had created six false identities by going to the UK and obtaining people's birth certificates.

He said Church went into the Record Office in Manchester and paid £10 for each birth cert, then used those identities to claim welfare in Ireland.

Det Rochford told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that no-one in this State had been affected by the false use of identities.

Officials in the Department of Social Protection became suspicious in July 2013 after facial image-matching showed four people claiming Social Welfare had the same photograph.

The identities were in the names of Adam Cole, Paul Anthony O'Brien, Derek O'Brien and Darren O'Brien.

Officers attended Killinarden Post Office in Tallaght on July 29 and watched a man on CCTV claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in the name of Derek O'Brien.

On the same day, the same man claimed Jobseekers' Allowance at Clondalkin Post Office in the name of Paul Anthony O'Brien.

Gardai stopped Church on the M50 and he produced a driving licence in his own name. His car was seized and was found to contain documents in the names of three different people.

Church was arrested on suspicion of deception and initially only admitted to falsely using the name of Derek O'Brien to claim benefits.

However, three days later he went voluntarily to gardai in Tallaght and admitted fraudulently using a further five names.

Church has no previous convictions.

Sean Guerin SC, defending, said Church had saved the State the expense of a lengthy trial by pleading guilty and cooperating with gardai.

He said although Church had used the money to drink, gamble and pay loans, he was also a family man and had provided for his wife and four children, albeit out of ill-gotten gains.

Mr Guerin mentioned a similar case of social welfare fraud where a man had been sentenced to eight years in jail following an appeal, but said that man had used the names of close family members.

Judge Nolan indicated that the sentence he will impose will be somewhat less than eight years and remanded Church in custody for sentencing today.

hnews@herald.ie

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