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Mum jailed for swindling €15k in dole money

A MOTHER of four who defrauded the State out of more than €15,000 to pay off her husband's drug debt has been sentenced to two years, with the final 15 months suspended.

Marie Cawley (34), of Rivermeade Avenue, St Margarets, in Swords, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 15 sample counts of stealing from the Department of Social Protection between January 1, 2010, and May 8, 2011.

She also pleaded guilty to an offence of possession of a false driving licence in the name of Mary McDonald on July 14, 2011. She has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Emer Judge told John Fitzgerald, prosecuting, that the fraud was uncovered through a Garda operation called Headrest.

The gardai searched Cawley's cousin's address on July 14, 2011, where they discovered documents addressed to both Cawley and Mary McDonald. They also found a driving licence in the name of Ms McDonald but with Cawley's photograph attached to it.

Garda Judge said that further investigations revealed that Cawley had been falsely claiming jobseeker's allowance in her cousin's name since January 2010. The amount stolen was €15,260.


A genuine application had initially been made by Ms McDonald but she later moved to London. Cawley then signed on monthly at her local social welfare office, using the false licence, which allowed her to continue to claim the dole under Ms McDonald's name.

Garda Judge said Cawley was arrested in November 2011 when she presented herself at Malahide Garda Station.

She told gardai in interview that she had been under financial pressure as her husband owed a drug debt. She described her criminal behaviour as "an extreme measure" and said she had no choice because her husband was in danger.

Garda Judge agreed with Oisin Clarke, defending, that Cawley had been under her husband's influence.

Mr Clarke told Judge Martin Nolan that his client's relationship with her husband was physically violent and she has spent some time throughout their marriage in a woman's refuge. He asked the court to accept that she "is holding her hands up to the offence".