Former drug addict avoids jail over €13k false welfare claims
A 33-year-old father of eight has been spared jail after he fraudulently claimed more than €13,000 in social welfare payments.
Edward Corcoran is now having his legitimate social welfare payments docked and it is estimated he will have repaid the stolen money to the State in nine years' time.
Corcoran, of Kishogue Park, Lucan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 11 counts of stealing various types of social welfare payments between June 2009 and March 2011.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring ordered him to do 220 hours of community service in lieu of two-and-a-half years in prison.
He is to complete the community service within the next 12 months, and will continue having his social welfare payments cut by €30 a week.
Judge Ring said the sentence would allow him to pay back his debt to society while remaining in the community and paying back his monetary debt.
"Incarceration would see an end to the repayment to the State," she said. She told Corcoran he had stolen from his community, saying: "Your neighbours, your other family members, these are the people who suffer.
"People think there are no victims but there are. People cannot get services, and part of the reason is because others are making claims to which they are not entitled. There are many victims."
Gda Colleen Doherty told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that social welfare inspectors had become suspicious of certain payments being made.
An investigation established that Corcoran claimed under false names on 65 occasions, fraudulently collecting €13,580 in total. Corcoran, who has 11 previous convictions, was admitted the wrong- doing during garda interviews.
Cathal McGreal BL, defending, said Corcoran was a recovered drug addict who suffers with depression. He is currently engaged in a community employment scheme as well as helping at home with his children.
He said he has volunteered within his community and has not socialised, smoked or drank since he began repaying the money to the State.
Mr McGreal told Judge Ring that Corcoran was afraid of going to prison, and the offence arose in a period of his life from which he has now recovered.
Judge Ring noted from reports that Corcoran is now clean of drugs and is taking appropriate steps to deal with his mental health issues and to prevent drug addiction relapse.