Friday 19 October 2018

Hospital cleaner fraudulently claimed more than €27k in dole payments

Albert Doyle (34) from Drimnagh, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after he appeared before the Dublin District Court in relation to social welfare fraud offences.Pic: Collins Courts
Albert Doyle (34) from Drimnagh, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after he appeared before the Dublin District Court in relation to social welfare fraud offences.Pic: Collins Courts

Tom Tuite

A hospital cleaner who fraudulently claimed more than €27,000 in dole payments while working, has been given a six-month suspended sentence.

Albert Doyle, 34, from Errigal Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, who previously survived a shooting, was prosecuted by the Department of Social Protection.

He had pleaded guilty in January last year and appeared again before Judge John Brennan at Dublin District Court yesterday/today (wed) for sentencing.

The fraud totalled €27,700 and he has repaid €820, the court heard.

The charges involved five counts of making a false declaration and one for failing to notify the social welfare authorities. The court heard that during the period the money was obtained, from 2012 until 2015, he had been working as a cleaner at St James’s Hospital and he made five false declarations.

Last year, he was warned by the court that he was at a risk of custodial sentence and there would have to be a lump sum paid to seriously impact on the matters before the court.

The court had heard he was making €40 fortnightly repayments but at that rate it would have taken just over 26 years to clear the money owed to the social welfare office. He was also caring for his father who was recovering from a serious operation, the court was told.

When the case resumed yesterday/today (WED) defence solicitor Siobhan Conlon asked the judge to note her client had become extremely ill in October and was hospitalised, at St James’s Hospital, for serious health problems including a stroke.

He has gone back to work now, three days a week, but was still in ill health and when he was younger he was shot in the neck, the solicitor said.

She asked the court to note her client was willing to do community service and would engage with the Probation Service if an adjournment were granted.

However, he was concerned he would not be found to be an appropriate candidate for that given his health and on-going medication.

She said Doyle was looking to have his case finalised and he had suggested a suspended sentence.

Judge Brennan remarked that Doyle’s suggestion was “no surprise” but he noted there was no evidence before the court of any previous convictions.

He took into account the sum and time period involved and said it was “very much at the upper end of the scale”.

However, he noted the plea of guilty and his difficult personal circumstances. He imposed a six-month sentence but suspended it on condition Doyle does not re-offend in the next year.

In the district court the offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and a possible six-month jail sentence in addition to having to repay the social welfare authorities.

The court can only consider leaving defendants accused of benefit fraud without a criminal record if all the money has been repaid. They also have a mechanism to recoup money even after a case has been finalised.

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