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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Cheat who claimed €167k benefits spared jail to care for disabled sister

Lawlor admitted 11 counts. Photo: Collins Courts
Lawlor admitted 11 counts. Photo: Collins Courts

A Dublin man who claimed more than €167,000 in fraudulent social welfare payments has been spared jail so he can continue caring for his disabled sister.

Gerard Lawlor (67), of Balrothery, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 11 sample counts of stealing social welfare payments between 2005 and 2015.

Gda Nigel Daly said the fraud was uncovered when Revenue Commissioners carried out an audit on Lawlor's former wife, who was the director of a dieting company.

Revenue discovered Lawlor had been claiming fraudulent payments from the Department of Social Protection since 2005.

These included pre-retirement payments for himself and adult dependent allowances in respect of his estranged wife, the court heard.

Reluctance

The total amount defrauded was €167,873, said prosecution barrister Lorcan Staines.

Judge Karen O'Connor noted that a probation officer had concluded that Lawlor's sister, Patricia Lawlor, would not be able to care for their severely disabled sister without her brother's assistance.

The judge said it was with "a degree of reluctance" that she would impose a suspended sentence.

Judge O'Connor sentenced Lawlor, who has no previous convictions, to three years in prison, suspended in full.

At a hearing in April, the court heard that while claiming these means-tested benefits, Lawlor failed to declare he was self-employed and had bought and sold a number of properties. He also worked in a garage with his father and brother.

He had €11,000 in court as a token of his remorse, while his €183 a week state pension had been reduced by €28 in order to pay back the money he owes.

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