A woman flew from Malaga to Cork a number of times to sign on for social welfare over a six-month period, fraudulently claiming a total of over €6,000.
Michelle Lunnon, aged 30, of Ballinglanna, Clonakilty, Co Cork, was living in Spain at the time she claimed the social welfare in Cork between May 2 and November 7, 2013.
Detective Garda Stephen Fuller formally arrested and charged Lunnon at Cork District Court yesterday with 28 counts of theft.
Pleading guilty to all 28 theft charges, she said: “I want to apologise again for my misjudgment.”
Judge Leo Malone said that in the context of difficult financial circumstances for the State, he was recording a conviction against the defendant for the thefts and fined her a total of €800.
Det Garda Fuller said the special investigative unit of the Department of Social Protection examined flight manifests in and out of the State, comparing them with records of those claiming social welfare payments.
The department alerted gardaí that Lunnon may have been claiming one-parent family allowance when outside the country, initially at €217.80 per week and for the last few payments at €237.80 per week.
Det Garda Fuller said that on the third occasion when she flew in from Spain to sign on, she was met at the airport by gardaí and immediately admitted her crime. The detective said a third party was collecting the payments for her on a weekly basis.
Eddie Burke, defending, said that by December 2013, Lunnon had repaid the department the full amount and returned to Cork by arrangement to be formally arrested, charged, and have the case dealt with at Cork District Court.
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