A drugs 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 (aged 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 for possessing drugs for the purpose of supply.
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 repay.
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”.
Defence solicitor Brian Keenan had told Judge O'Neill his client is a person “with a long history of offending going back 15 years”.
He had also said the case relates to Mulvany failing to notify the social welfare office that had been living in Lanzarote.
Mr Keenan said that Mulvany had previously been a heroin addict but has detoxed and he has HIV.
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”.
Mr Keenan has also said Mulvany was apologetic for his behaviour.
Mulvany had contested the charge but was found guilty of the offences.