Woman admits lying on lone parent’s allowance form but insists the case is not ‘all about the money’
A Department of Social Protection official “absolutely and totally refutes” an allegation that he asked a woman for oral sex in return for her avoiding prosecution for fraud, Sligo Circuit Court heard yesterday. The woman who made the allegation denied in court that the case was “all about money”.
She admitted under cross-examination that she had lied three times on a form relating to a review of her lone parent’s allowance.
Andrew Gilmartin, 46, of Drumfad, Grange, Co Sligo, has pleaded not guilty to coercion. He denies compelling a woman to do an act which “she was lawfully entitled to abstain from” at the social welfare offices in Cranmore, Sligo on April 9, 2014.
The jury heard that in a statement to gardaí, the defendant said he “absolutely and totally” rejected the allegation against him.
He admitted saying “ah for fuck’s sake” to the woman after she told him she was doing a course with the National Learning Network (NLN) because he was “terribly frustrated” with her. “I will admit it was unprofessional,” he told gardaí.
The jury has heard that she was paid an allowance by the NLN. The woman gave evidence that she went into the social welfare office after being contacted about the fact that she had worked while getting the lone parent’s allowance.
The defendant said the woman told him she had worked in a hotel for a few weeks during the summer. He left the room to find out if the NLN course would affect her payments. He said that she replied “Oh my God I am in trouble now. I am in big trouble now” when told it would.
“I said I would like to deal with this locally. I did not want it to escalate to a prosecution,” the accused recalled in his statement.
He calculated the woman had been overpaid by €1,400 or €1,500, without taking into account her hotel work.
The accused said he had locked both doors in the interview room for privacy reasons, as soon as the woman had come in.
He told gardaí he believed the woman was upset when she left the office because of the overpayments and because he had mentioned prosecution.
He had rang her on her mobile to apologise for using bad language and she was very upset.
Earlier during cross-examination Rory Staines, counsel for the accused, put it to the woman that she had lied when filling in a lone parent’s allowance review form in November 2013. She had said she wasn’t doing a course, that she had not been working and that she did not have a bank account.
Pressed on whether she accepted that she lied three times, the woman replied “yes”.
When counsel suggested that the accused had opened the door of the room to let her out, the woman replied: “That is a lie. I know exactly what happened in that room. I have lived with it for two years and three months”.
Counsel put it to the woman that her account of what happened in the room was “utterly incredible”, that a man who had been in the job for so long would “get up to this kind of carry on”. The woman replied: “I know what happened in that room”.
The jury heard that no formal complaint about accused was made to the department and and that he still worked there.
Mr Staines put it to the woman that she had instructed a solicitor in relation to a civil action and that this was “all about money”.
“This is not about money” she replied.
The trial is continuing.
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