Friday 15 December 2017

Man claimed pension of dead friend for 23 years

Sonya McLean

A man received almost €140,000 after fraudulently claiming the pension of a dead acquaintance for more than two decades, a court heard yesterday.

The scam only came to light when a social welfare official called to the dead man's house to organise a special payment for what would have been his 100th birthday.

A death certificate later showed that pensioner Gerry Donnelly had died 23 years earlier on September 17, 1984.

Patrick McLoughlin (65), of Ballyfermot Drive, Ballyfermot in Dublin, pleaded guilty to 10 sample charges including forging pension vouchers and theft at Upper Ballyfermot Post Office on dates between September 21, 1984, and June 1, 2007. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard how the fraud was only discovered when social welfare staff were preparing to make the "presidential centenarian bounty payment'' to Mr Donnelly.

Gardai were contacted when an official called to Mr Donnelly's last known address and learned that the current owner had bought the house in 1989.

McLoughlin was arrested in June 2007 after gardai viewed CCTV footage of him collecting Mr Donnelly's pension at his local post office.

Bus pass

Evidence was also given that McLoughlin collected his own pension in the same post office and was known to staff there.

McLoughlin claimed that Mr Donnelly's son had stayed at his home and left his father's pension book behind. He also told gardai that a bus pass, in Mr Donnelly's name but bearing McLoughlin's photograph, had been supplied to him by the same man.

However, he later admitted that he had stayed with Mr Donnelly shortly before he died and had paid for his funeral. He said Mr Donnelly's son had allowed him to claim the dead man's pension in order to recoup the costs of the funeral.

Sergeant Colm Kelly agreed with the defence that McLoughlin had arranged a scheme to repay the State and accepted that the defendant did not own a car or his own house, had never travelled abroad and had not lived "the high life".

McLoughlin's defence counsel told the judge that his client had suggested to the Department of Social and Family Affairs that they deduct money from his disability allowance in order to pay back the money he stole.

The judge adjourned the case until April to see if McLoughlin could continue repaying the debt to An Post out of his disability allowance.

The case was originally adjourned last July to allow McLoughlin to undergo cancer treatment. He was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth seven years ago and is the primary carer for his seriously ill wife.

Irish Independent

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