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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Jail for mother-of-four who hid job as cleaner in €100k benefit fraud

Maria Redmond outside court
Maria Redmond outside court

A mother-of-four who stole around €100,000 in fraudulent social welfare payments has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Maria Redmond (61) claimed an invalidity pension for 13 years while working as a cleaner in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin.

Her lawyers told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that she had used the money to "pay her mortgage, keep a roof over her head and look after her children".

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Redmond's motivation was to take care of her family, that she wasn't a wealthy person and was unlikely to reoffend.

He said Redmond hadn't been lucky in life, but that unfortunately she had gone down "the wrong route, the criminal route".

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

The court heard that, although she had taken some €139,000 in social welfare payments, the State had suffered a loss of about €100,000 as Redmond would have been entitled to a certain amount of benefits.

Suspicious

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 number registered at her sister's address.

The court heard that Redmond was eligible for an invalidity pension when she first claimed it in 1995.

However, when she started working in 2002, she failed to inform the department of her change in circumstances.

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

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

Once Redmond's photo was taken for the card, officials were able to determine that she was the same person.

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

She said she knew it was wrong to apply for a second PPS number, but said a lot of people she knew were working and collecting social welfare.

She told gardai she was "sorry, ashamed and embarrassed".

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

The court heard that Redmond had married a chronic alcoholic who never contributed to the mortgage payments or running of the household.

The court heard Redmond earned €160 a week as a cleaner at the time of her offending.

She is repaying the money she stole from the department at a rate of €25 a week.

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