Drug smuggler in Lanzarote as he claimed €30k in benefits here
A drug smuggler, who fraudulently claimed almost €30,000 in benefits for three years when he was living in Lanzarote, has been given a chance to avoid a jail sentence.
Gary Mulvany (37), who now resides at an apartment in Summerhill, in Dublin 1, has been convicted of benefit fraud in a prosecution brought by the Department of Social Protection. The offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and/or a six-month sentence.
Dublin District Court heard he failed to tell the social welfare authorities that from July 2008 until May 2011 he was not living in the country while he continued claiming disability allowance.
Judge John O'Neill was told his fraud came to light after Mulvany was stopped as he stepped off a flight at Knock Airport.
Customs officers carried out a search and recovered drugs, which resulted in him getting a three-year suspended sentence at Castlebar Circuit Court.
As a consequence of that arrest social welfare authorities became aware of his time in Lanzarote, said prosecution solicitor Joseph Maguire.
The court heard he unlawfully received €29,520, has repaid €3,948, leaving €25,572 outstanding.
Some €28 a week is now being deducted from his disability allowance to pay back the social welfare authorities and, at the current rate, it will take 17 years to pay the amount in fulll.
Defence solicitor Brian Keenan asked the court to note that Mulvany has not come to further adverse attention and that a positive probation report had been furnished to the court.
Mr Keenan said his client has turned his life around.
Judge John O'Neill noted that Mulvany had engaged with the Probation Service.
He adjourned the case until July for an updated report on the defendant's suitability for a community service order.
At an earlier stage the judge, who was furnished with pre-sentence reports on the accused, said Mulvany had a childhood "that no youngster should have gone through".
Judge O'Neill was also told the 37-year-old moved to the Spanish island and "did not realise he should have notified the department".