Garda jailed for insurance fraud

A young garda has been jailed for a year at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today for a €10,000 insurance fraud involving his sports car.

Earlier this year, a jury found Garda Paul Fogarty (aged 28) guilty of defrauding Quinn Direct, but acquitted him of harassing a Meath garage owner and his father after a dispute over crash repairs that had been carried out on Fogarty’s Toyota Celica.

Fogarty, who has been suspended from the force since January 2010, had pleaded not guilty to dishonestly inducing Quinn Direct to pay an insurance claim €10,254 at Littlepace, Clonee, Co Meath in April, 2009.

At the sentence hearing, Judge Sarah Berkeley noted that Fogarty, who is based at Dundrum Garda Station, had missed out on a chance to study in America on a football scholarship when he was younger because of Crohn's Disease.

She took into account that he is likely to lose his job as garda and that he will find it difficult to get insurance in the future.

She also took into account that Fogarty, who has been Head of Youth Development at Shelbourne Football Club since March this year, had a work opportunity with an American company offering education scholarships to schoolboys in Ireland and the UK.

She accepted Fogarty had been suffering from Crohn's Disease and financial pressures at the time and that the offence was a “great mistake”.

Judge Berkeley imposed a 12-month sentence on the offence, which carries a maximum five years in jail.

Detective Garda William Saunderson told prosecuting counsel Melanie Greally, BL, that in May 2007, Garda Fogarty had purchased a Toyota Celica for €19,000.

On January 10, 2008 Fogarty was involved in a single-vehicle crash on the M50 which caused extensive damage to the vehicle.

The car was brought to Kelly's Recovery Yard in Wicklow and it was here that Fogarty was introduced to Christopher Kelly by a mutual friend.

"He had agreed to pay Mr Kelly €5,000 in advance to pay for the parts," said Det Gda Saunderson.

The car was then brought to Mr Kelly's yard in Trim, Co Meath where "very little progress" was made on repairing it. The repairs were described as unsatisfactory and the car was handed back to Fogarty in November 2008.

In April 2009, Fogarty submitted a claim to Quinn Direct stating that the car had been stolen and it had been "in perfect condition and had not been involved in any accidents."

This, according to Ms Greally, was the "crux of the charge" of fraud.

Quinn Direct agreed to pay Fogarty €11,000 as the insurance company had not been aware that the car had been involved in an accident.

"The car turned up in the driveway of Mr Pat Kelly's home in Limerick in June 2009 and evidence was found then that it had been crashed," said Det Gda Saunderson.

Fogarty was arrested in June 2009 and admitted during garda interviews the car had been involved in a crash.

Fogarty told gardaí that he was withholding a certain amount of information from the insurance company when he made his claim.

Det Gda Saunderson agreed with Ms Greally that Fogarty was under pressure and on medication for Crohn's disease.

He said Fogarty was of previous good character and was highly regarded as a garda by his colleagues.

Det Gda Saunderson also agreed with defence counsel, Breffni Gordon BL, that Quinn Direct, now Liberty Insurance, have been reimbursed by Fogarty.

Mr Gordon said following Fogarty’s conviction for dishonesty, there is a strong likelihood he will lose his career.

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