Friday 20 April 2018

French music teacher with dual identities who claimed €175,000 in social welfare is jailed

Daniel Daudet. Picture: RTE
Daniel Daudet. Picture: RTE

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Fiona Ferguson

A French music teacher who had dual identities so he could work and claim social welfare has been jailed for three and a half years.

Daniel Daudet (40) obtained a PPS number under the name Alexander Daude in 2002 and used this to claim €175,000 in unemployment, Back to Education and rent allowances on dates up to 2015.

He got a PPS number using his real name a year later and between March 2011 and May 2012 claimed social welfare payments under both aliases.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the Dublin penthouse Daudet shared with his husband and occasional Airbnb guests was rented at €3,000 a month and had its own private swimming pool.

During the trial the jury heard Daudet altered his ID card to apply for the Alexander Daude PPS number using tippex, a printer and scanner.

Daudet, of Baltrasna House, Spencer Dock, was convicted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last November of using a false instrument in Dublin on July 10, 2002 and to using a false French national identity card within the State on August 15, 2008.

He was also found guilty of 711 further charges of fraudulently claiming social welfare payments from August 2002 to August 2015. Daudet has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally said the offences had involved “significant and sustained dishonesty.” She said they had occurred over a significant time and involved a substantial amount.

She said he had been using tax payers money to part fund a lifestyle he could otherwise not afford.

Judge Greally gave Daudet credit for matters including his previous good character, academic and musical achievements, testimonials and references handed into court, as well as the arrangements he has put into place to repay the money.

She also took into account he will be struck off the register of music teachers and that his bail conditions had restricted his ability to see his elderly parents who live in France.

Judge Greally imposed concurrent sentences totalling three and a half years.

Garda Ian Abbey said the offending came to light when the Department of Social Protection flagged that a claimant Alexander Daude was providing unsatisfactory information.

He told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that a Special Investigations Unit officer in the Department searched online for Alexander Daude and found a LinkedIn profile for Daniel Daudet.

The photograph and birth date the department had on file for Alexander Daude matched the same LinkedIn details for music teacher Daniel Daudet. Further inquiries revealed that Daniel Daudet had a different PPS number and home address.

Gda Abbey revealed that the department used facial image matching software to review a photo captured of the person purporting to be Alexander Daude at a meeting with officials in 2015.

The garda said on foot of the image match and other documentation gathered in the investigation, he got a warrant to search Daudet's Spencer Dock address.

Among the documents seized at this premises, were photocopies showing the alteration of an ID card from Daniel Daudet to Alexander Daude.

Though Daudet admitted to gardaí in interview that he had been falsely claiming social welfare, it was the defence case in his trial that he had been told to plead guilty by his then legal team.

The court heard Daudet had previously told gardaí that he'd been able to continue receiving rent supplements for a Percy Place address in Dublin 4 because he had kept the key to the post box.

Gda Abbey said Daudet claimed that he had been trying to “regularise” his position by altering his ID. Daudet told the jury during his trial that there had always been a difficulty with the Daudet versus Daude spelling of his surname.

Daudet's father gave evidence of the name spelling difficulty and a birth certificate with “Daude” on it had been shown to the jury.

Gda Abbey agreed with Blaise O'Carroll SC, defending, that Daudet had been repaying the State by €100 a week since 2016 and that he currently owed €167,800.

Mr O'Carroll handed in testimonials to Judge Greally that Daudet had been an excellent teacher at the Ballyfermot school where he had worked.

He said Daudet was a “kind and gentle” person who had been deeply involved in the Ballyfermot community by organising voluntary concerts. Counsel said his conviction would result in him being struck off as a teacher.

Mr O'Carroll said it was Daudet's intention to pay back all the money he owed to the State even after whatever sentence was imposed on him had ended.

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