Welfare fraudster avoids jail term

A drug smuggler who fraudulently claimed almost €30,000 in benefits for three years when he was living in Lanzarote has been given a suspended sentence.

Gary Mulvany, aged 37, who now resides at an apartment in Summerhill, 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 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. That resulted in him getting a three-year suspended term at Castlebar Circuit Court for possessing the drugs for the purpose of supply.

As a consequence of that arrest, social welfare became aware of the time he spent in Lanzarote, said prosecution solicitor Joseph Maguire.

The court heard he unlawfully received €29,520 and has repaid €4,596, leaving €24,924 outstanding. Some €28 a week is now being taken from his disability allowance to pay back the authorities and at the current rate will take 17 years.

Defence counsel Matthew Holmes asked the court to noteMulvany has not come to further adverse attention and that a positive probation report had been furnished to the court. He had been staying in Lanzarote to get away from his problems and is now drug free, counsel said.

Judge O’Neill said a substantial amount of money is still owed. He imposed a three-month sentence but suspended it on condition Mulvany keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for the next 12 months.


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