Thursday 18 July 2019

Man claimed benefit while living in UK

He also owned a corner shop in Halifax at the same time

A man who obtained almost €17,000 in social welfare payments has pleaded guilty to ten counts of theft relating to the misappropriation of Jobseekers' Allowance.

Mohammed Bashir (63), Scarlet Street, Drogheda, received suspended sentences after the circuit criminal court heard he paid back all the money.

It was outlined that the period of claiming in question was from 29 August, 2017 and 17 May, 2018.

He made 58 flights between Dublin airport and the UK, only visiting Ireland for two days at a time on average.

Bashir, holder of a UK passport, received a PPS no. here in 2015. He made a claim but was unsuccessful.

He made a subsequent claim on 8 June, 2017 and was successful on this occasion. Payments were made to him and his family.

Garda Raymond Foley who investigated the matter said the defendant owned property, a corner shop and upstairs at nos. 2 and 4, Conway Street, Halifax.

This was not disclosed to the Department of Social Protection, and the fact he was resident five days a week in the UK, also did not entitle him to payments.

Bashir had just arrived back in Drogheda that day when he was arrested on 22 May, 2018, by Gda Foley for fraudulently claiming social welfare payments.

He said he had been in Yorkshire for five days, and made the trip regularly to visit relatives.

The defendant told gardaí if he booked the flights strategically, he could get them for €9.99.

He accepted he effectively did not live in Ireland.

Mohammed Bashir had signed pleas of guilty in the district court on 26 October, 2018. He paid back the €16,844 in one go on 30 April last.

He lives in Drogheda with his wife and two children. A third is on the way.

It was part of his bail conditions that he resides here and that the guards retain his passport.

He works full-time in a fish factory and part-time delivering pizzas.

There are no previous convictions from either jurisdiction.

Counsel for the accused said this was not an exercise in dishonest greed.

Bashir saw it as a way out until he got his property sold in England sold.

He was getting more and more desperate to sell the house to get himself back on his feet. He has one family to support in Ireland and another in the UK.

The court heard the sale yielded £77,500. The defendant was a part-owner, so the other owner had to get their share.

He accepted the gravity of the situation and that the injured party is every taxpayer in Ireland.

Judge McDonnell said in the circumstances she would adopt the district court sentence limit.

She imposed a 12-month term for each offence, suspended for two years, and all to run concurrently.

The judge also made an order returning the defendant's passport.

Drogheda Independent