herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Fraudster collected dole for friend who had emigrated to US

A welfare form. Photo: Mark Condren
A welfare form. Photo: Mark Condren

A DOLE fraudster collected social welfare, rent and children's allowance for a friend who emigrated to America, a court has heard.

Gordon Cullen (47) continued to claim the man's benefits after he left Ireland and the pair split the money between them, totalling €2,384.

Cullen signed on for a payment of more than €1,000 on one occasion, but was caught after an anonymous call was made to gardai.

The defendant, of Cherry Valley Copse, Rathmolyon, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to five counts of deception at the post office at Centra, Shantalla Road, Santry, on dates between February 15 and March 15, 2014, and one at Dolphin's Barn Post Office on March 4 that year.

He also admitted attempted deception at Santry Post Office on March 22.

Judge Patricia McNamara adjourned sentencing to March 11.

Garda Dominic McGrath told Dublin District Court that Cullen had gone in and claimed he was the other man.

After the theft was reported, gardai stopped him outside the post office and he accompanied them voluntarily to the station and made admissions.

He told officers he had kept a portion of the money and lodged the rest to his friend's bank account. Withdrawals were made from the account in the US.

The court heard that while Cullen only benefited from half the money, he had repaid the full amount and the now-former friend had paid back none.

Judge McNamara asked how the defendant could have collected as much as €1,053 on one day.

difficulties

Gda McGrath said this was for several payments that could have been collected on different dates but he let them build up.

The court heard Cullen was a self-employed driver who had been in financial difficulties at the time of the offence, getting into mortgage arrears.

"He unfortunately agreed to go along with the plan with the person who had previously been claiming social welfare and they split the money," his lawyer said. "He deeply regrets what happened and was deeply relieved it had come to an end."

The court heard Cullen had since come to an arrangement with the lending institution to put his arrears to the end of the mortgage.

The court heard that he had never been in trouble before.

His children were aged 11 and 15, his wife was a full-time carer and he was the sole provider in the home.

He was unable to carry out community service because of this, his lawyer said.

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