herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Music teacher living in a penthouse is jailed for €175k welfare fraud

Daniel Daudet had a PPS number for ‘Alexander Daude’
Daniel Daudet had a PPS number for ‘Alexander Daude’

A music teacher from France who had dual identities so he could work and claim social welfare has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Daniel Daudet (40) obtained a PPS number under the name "Alexander Daude" in 2002 and used it to claim €175,000 in unemployment and Back to Education and rent allowances, on dates up to 2015.

He got a PPS number using his real name a year later and, between March 2011 and May 2012, claimed social welfare payments under both aliases.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the Dublin penthouse Daudet shared with his husband and occasional Airbnb guests was rented at €3,000 a month and had its own private swimming pool.

Dishonesty

During the trial, the jury heard Daudet altered his ID card to apply for the "Alexander Daude" PPS number using Tippex, a printer and scanner.

Daudet, of Baltrasna House, Spencer Dock, was convicted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last November of using a false instrument in Dublin on July 10, 2002, and using a false French national identity card within the State on August 15, 2008.

He was also found guilty of 711 further charges of fraudulently claiming social welfare payments, from August 2002 to August 2015. Daudet had no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally said the offences had involved "significant and sustained dishonesty".

She said they had happened over a significant time and involved a substantial amount.

She said he had been using taxpayers' money to part-fund a lifestyle he could otherwise not afford.

Judge Greally gave Daudet credit for matters including his previous good character, academic and musical achievements, testimonials and references handed into court, as well as the arrangements he had put into place to repay the money.

She also took into account the fact that he will be struck off the register of music teachers and that his bail conditions had restricted his ability to see his elderly parents in France.

Judge Greally imposed concurrent sentences totalling three-and-a-half years.

Garda Ian Abbey said the offending came to light when the Department of Social Protection flagged that a claimant "Alexander Daude" was providing unsatisfactory information.

He told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that a Special Investigations Unit officer in the department searched online for Daude and found a LinkedIn profile for Daudet.

The photograph and birthdate the department had on file for Daude matched the same LinkedIn details for Daudet.

Further inquiries revealed that Daudet had a different PPS number and home address.

Gda Abbey revealed that the department used facial image-matching software to review a photo captured of the person purporting to be Daude at a meeting with officials in 2015.

The garda said on foot of the image match and other documentation gathered in the investigation, he obtained a warrant to search Daudet's Spencer Dock address.

Seized

Among the documents seized at the premises were photocopies showing the alteration of an ID card from Daniel Daudet to "Alexander Daude".

Daudet told the jury during his trial that there had always been a difficulty with the Daudet versus Daude spelling of his surname.

Daudet's father gave evidence of the name spelling difficulty and a birth certificate with "Daude" on it had been shown to the jury.

Gda Abbey agreed with Blaise O'Carroll SC, defending, that Daudet had been repaying the State €100-a-week since 2016 and that he currently owed €167,800.

Mr O'Carroll handed in testimonials to Judge Greally that Daudet had been an excellent teacher at the Ballyfermot school where he had worked.

He added that Daudet was a "kind and gentle" person, who intended to pay back all the money he owed to the State, even after whatever sentence was imposed on him had ended.

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