Self-employed man fraudulently claimed €40k in illness benefit

By Fiona Ferguson

A SELF-employed man who fraudulently claimed almost €40,000 in illness benefit over a six year period has been jailed for 14 months.

Edward Doherty (65) had been legitimately claiming illness benefit for a number of years but continued to get monthly sick certificates from his doctor for his back pain and submitted them without notifying authorities about his change in circumstances when he became self-employed.

Criminal Courts of Justice 2

Doherty, of Belgard Crescent, Belgard Heights, Tallaght,  pleaded guilty that he did, at places unknown within the State, make false declarations for the purpose of gaining illness benefit and steal money property of the Department of Social Protection on dates between 2010 and 2016.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Doherty had entered a repayment plan of €150 per month and had repaid €2,100 over the past 14 months.

Social Welfare Inspectors became aware of the offences after receiving information from the Revenue Commissioners that Doherty was employed and had earned €140,000 over the six year period. Doherty co-operated with the investigation and made admissions.

Doherty told investigators he regretted the offences. He said he had started a courier business and had needed the additional money from the illness benefit to get by financially.

Seamus Clarke SC, defending, said Doherty had an extensive work history but had been made redundant in 2005. He legitimately claimed illness benefit in relation to his sciatica for five years.

He said Doherty had problems with gambling and drinking during 2005 to 2010. He said his client at the time owed money to the Revenue and in relation to M50 tolls.

Mr Clarke said Doherty then began working in 2010 but continued to send in certificates in relation to his sciatica. He said Doherty genuinely suffered with sciatica and had been tempted by the money coming in.

He said Doherty had got himself into an “almighty mess” and was trying to remedy the situation.

Mr Clarke submitted that Doherty was eventually going to be caught as Revenue were on to him as he was registered as self employed. He handed in a number of testimonials.

Judge Martin Nolan noted Doherty's guilty plea, full co-operation and that he has no previous convictions. He said Doherty was a good family man, a good community man and had a long work history.

Judge Nolan noted there was good mitigation but said this pattern of misbehaviour was too serious for a non-custodial sentence. He imposed 14 months imprisonment.

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