A Listowel man claimed over €35,000 in benefits while employed as “a steel fixer” working six days a week in the construction industry in the UK, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told.
Patrick Holly, aged 51, of O’Connell Avenue, Listowel, Co Kerry, had been earning £800 a week and the judge branded his behaviour as “appallingly avaricious”.
He legitimately applied for and been receiving the benefit while out of work and ill in Kerry in 2010. However, in November 2011 and until the end of May 2015, Holly was still getting the €188 per week disability payment into his account — while earning £800 as a steel worker and residing in Reading, the sentencing hearing as told.
He pleaded guilty to obtaining payment of a disability allowance between November 9, 2011, and May 27, 2015, while knowingly concealing a material fact — that he was “both residing in and employed in the United Kingdom during that period”.
Over the four years, while working in the UK and also collecting disability allowance from the Irish social welfare system, the separated father of three received €35,203, the court heard.
Garda Hilary Lynch told the court “confidential information” had been received by a social welfare inspector in Tralee.
Under the Data Protection Act, information regarding flights taken by Holly was sought from Ryanair and this established that he used an address in the UK to book his flights — and went back and forth from Kerry Airport in Farranfore about once a month. Gardaí then applied for bank records, she told Mr Rice.
In June 2016, she arrested Mr Holly when he arrived into Farranfore.
“He made full admissions and was quite remorseful,” said Garda Lynch.
He had agreed to pay €50 a week (the legislation laid down a sum of €29 a week) back and so far had paid €3,400, Garda Lynch said.
Brian McInerney, defending, said his client had no previous convictions.
“He will reimburse the State,” he said. His client had been going through a bad time when suffering significant mental health issues and out of work and his father had died. His marriage had also come unstuck.
Judge O’Donnell agreed to adjourn the matter for 12 months but warned he would like to see the State “reimbursed for every last euro”. If there was any “slippage” in the agreement to repay the €50, the State could re-enter the matter, the judge said.
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