Father stole €150,000 in fraudulent welfare claims
A father who fraudulently claimed just under €150,000 in social welfare payments over 14 years has been jailed for four years by Judge Martin Nolan.
Paul Daniel (46) started to claim social welfare under a second name, Paul Ward, in October 2006 and collected over €48,000 he wasn’t entitled to until he was detected by gardaí in April 2011.
While investigating this, gardaí discovered that Daniel had also claimed €98,484, fraudulently under a second name, James Gavin, between April 1997 and May 2010.
Daniel of Morgans Place, Navan Road, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to ten sample counts of defrauding or stealing from the State on dates between October 2006 and April 2011.
Garda Gareth Ryan told Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that the charges relate to Daniel fraudulently claiming social welfare payments on a weekly basis and that he that he had profited by over €10,000 a year.
Daniel told gardaí in interview that he just needed the money because he had gotten into debt from buying cars and heavy drinking. He also said he spent €400 to €500 per week on cocaine.
Gda Ryan told Mr Carroll that although Daniel has 23 previous convictions they were all for road traffic offences and he has never been charged with possession of drugs.
When asked by counsel if the man had a drug habit, Gda Ryan relied “we only have his word for that”.
Gda Ryan said that a social welfare inspector had concerns about claims being made by the same person in both the name of Paul Daniel and Paul Ward and altered the gardaí.
A surveillance operation was put in place on the post office in Donabate where the payments were being collected and Daniel was arrested there on May 19, 2011.
Daniel had documents on him at the time relating to both names. The claims were being made legitimately in the name of Daniel on behalf of the man’s wife.
A follow up search of Daniel’s home revealed documents in the name of James Gavin with Daniel’s photograph attached.
During interview he denied that he was making other fraudulent claims but when the documentation in Gavin’s name was put to him, he accepted that he had been using that name to collect social welfare at a post office on Dorset Street.
Gda Ryan agreed with Michael Hourigan BL, defending, that Daniel was “generally honest and forthright” with gardaí apart from his initial denial that he had made other fraudulent claims.
He accepted that his plea of guilty spared a lengthy trial but the garda said he believed there was enough evidence against Daniel to secure a conviction.
Mr Hourigan asked Judge Nolan to “resist the temptation” of making an example of his client.
He said the family are willing to come together and would be in a position to offer to reimburse the State €300 per week.
Judge Nolan said it was relatively easy to defraud the State in terms of claimant fraud and it was a difficult crime to detect.
“So there must be a deterrent type sentence when they come before the court,” the judge said.
He said he took into account Daniel’s plea and co-operation but added he needed money to solve his problems and decided to defraud the State to resolve it.
“He went in week after week after week after week, with malice and forethought and took about €200 per week,” the judge said.
“I must put in a deterrence factor as well as a punishment factor and I must impose a substantial custodial sentence,” Judge Nolan said.