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Saturday 15 December 2018

Cleaner (60) stole €140k in 13-year welfare fraud

A woman who stole nearly €140,000 in fraudulent social welfare payments was caught after suspicious officials arranged for her to have her Public Services Card photograph taken. (stock photo)
A woman who stole nearly €140,000 in fraudulent social welfare payments was caught after suspicious officials arranged for her to have her Public Services Card photograph taken. (stock photo)

A woman who stole nearly €140,000 in fraudulent social welfare payments was caught after suspicious officials arranged for her to have her Public Services Card photograph taken.

Maria Redmond (60) claimed an invalidity pension for 13 years while she was working as a cleaner in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

Redmond, of Comeragh Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of stealing property from the Department of Social Protection between November 2002 and September 2015.

Garda Ian Abbey told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that Redmond had two PPS numbers in two different names, including her maiden name, Delaney. She had her second PPS number registered at her sister's address.

The court heard that officials in the department became suspicious that Redmond and Delaney were the same person and an investigation began.

Remorseful

They spoke to her employers and obtained a copy of her passport photograph, before arranging for her to come in to get her Public Services Card.

Once Redmond's photo was taken, they were able to determine she was the same person.

When arrested, Redmond told gardai that because she was only working for three hours a day, she did not think she was doing anything wrong.

Defence barrister Emmet Nolan BL said his client, a separated woman with no previous convictions, was extremely remorseful for her actions.

He said she used the money to "pay her mortgage, keep a roof over her head and look after her children".

The court heard Redmond earned €160 a week as a part-time cleaner at the time of the offending, prompting Judge Martin Nolan to query whether she would have been eligible for a social welfare payment, "had she declared herself honestly".

He adjourned the matter to tomorrow to see if this might be the case.

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