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Sunday 22 October 2017

Home care worker pocketed €58,000 in benefits fraud

Christina Mulhall is paying money back at €15 a week. Image: Collins
Christina Mulhall is paying money back at €15 a week. Image: Collins

A care worker used another person's PRSI number to fraudulently claim almost €60,000 in benefits, a court has heard.

Mother-of-six Christina Mulhall (58), of Lower Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1, was prosecuted by the Department of Social Protection and will be sentenced next month.

She pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to charges under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act for unlawfully obtaining benefits on various dates going back to 2007.

The offence, on conviction at district court level, can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and a possible six-month sentence in addition to having to repay the social welfare authorities.

They can also continue to recoup money owed after criminal proceedings have concluded.

A circuit court conviction can carry a jail sentence of up to three years.

The judge was given an outline of the facts to determine if he would accept jurisdiction.

Prosecution solicitor Joseph Maguire told Judge John Brennan that Mulhall carried out two frauds relating to disability benefits and the one-parent family payment.

Vetting

Both frauds also involved misuse of another person's PRSI number and having their ID.

The one-parent family payment fraud netted €29,775 and the disability claim resulted in Mulhall getting €28,676, totalling €58,451.

The court also heard she was paying it back at a rate of €15 a week.

So far she has given back €848, Judge Brennan was told.

Mulhall's barrister asked the court to accept jurisdiction and said her client was pleading guilty.

The court heard she was a cancer survivor and her marriage ended 13 years ago, but she received no financial support from her ex-husband.

Mulhall is employed by a home care service in Dublin but her wages vary depending on the number of hours she works.

Her job requires garda vetting and she could now lose it. This could also cause disruption to the lives of the patients she has cared for over several years, counsel said.

The defence said Mulhall had increased her repayments by €5 to €15 a week and had made admissions.

Noting her circumstances, the judge accepted jurisdiction for the case to remain in the district court and adjourned proceedings until a date next month for mitigation and sentencing.

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