Married mum who got €22k as a lone parent avoids jail
A MOTHER-of-five, who fraudulently claimed €22,000 in single-parent benefits after she got married, has avoided a jail sentence.
Lyndsey Bell (33) from Ennel Drive, Artane, Dublin, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service in lieu of a three-month jail term.
She pleaded guilty to failing to notify the social welfare office that she got married in April 2011 and continued to get the one-parent family payment.
She was prosecuted by the office of the Minister for Social Protection and appeared before Judge John O’Neill at Dublin District Court, which heard she fraudulently got benefits totalling €22,249.
Defence solicitor Chris Horrigan said the woman now owes €20,000 and at her current rate of repayment it will take nine years until she clears her debt.
Mr Horrigan said the case and comments from the judge at an earlier stage in the proceedings had a profound effect on her, left her “feeling rather precarious” and she is now repaying €200 a month.
Judge O’Neill had told her “taxpayers have to foot the bill”.
Finalising the case, he said he noted she had no prior criminal convictions, her family circumstances, and that she co-operated fully with the Probation Service which furnished the court with a pre-sentence report.
He also said a substantial amount is now being deducted from her entitlements.
He said he had to record a conviction but spared her a jail term.
The offences, at district court level, can result in a fine of up to €2,500 as well as a possible six-month jail sentence.
The social welfare office can continue to recoup money owed after a court prosecution has been finalised.