A swimming instructor whose husband stole over €240,000 in social welfare while living outside of Ireland has been given a one-year suspended sentence for her role in child benefit fraud.
Nadine Stolk, who currently resides in the UK, discovered her husband had been defrauding the State of child benefit payments in 2017 and did nothing about it, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
Leendert Stolk (53) was given a four-year sentence in 2019 for social welfare fraud relating to child benefit, rent allowance, back to work allowance and back to school allowance which he claimed for seven years after leaving the country in 2010.
His wife (50) pleaded guilty on the first day of her trial last month to two sample counts of social welfare fraud in relation to child benefit payments on dates between July 31, 2017, and June 31, 2018. The total loss to the State as a result of her offending was €1,540.
Nadine Stolk, with an address in Coppice Road, Worthing, UK, has been married to her husband for over 20 years and the pair have two adult sons, the court heard. He is originally from the Netherlands and she was born in South Africa. They own a house in the UK.
Sentencing Stolk today, Judge Martin Nolan noted she has no previous convictions and a good work history. The court heard Stolk works as a swim instructor and one of their sons has competed internationally.
The judge handed down a one-year sentence and suspended it on a number of conditions.
The court previously heard that the couple moved to Ireland in 2009 and lived in the Dublin 15 area before leaving the jurisdiction in 2010.
After leaving the country, Leendert Stolk continued to make claims for jobseeker's allowance, rent allowance, back-to-work allowance, back-to-school allowance and child benefit claims. He regularly returned to the country, often fortnightly, to claim the payments.
The court heard he used a stamp from a school in Meath when filling out the child benefit forms.
Letters were sent to his old house in Dublin and then redirected to his actual address outside of the country.
Authorities began investigating him in July 2018 when a letter was returned to the Department of Social Protection instead of being redirected and gardaí discovered that the house was in fact empty.
Stolk was asked to provide proof he did not have a redirection in place and handed over a fraudulent declaration he claimed was from An Post.
He falsely claimed over €244,000 during the seven-year period.
He was initially only charged with €225,000 worth of false claims. He was further charged with €18,000 in false child benefit claims when his wife was arrested for child benefit fraud in 2019.