Couple jailed for child benefit cash scam

JAIL sentences of 10 months were imposed yesterday on a Limerick couple who pleaded guilty to operating an illegal money-lending scam involving child-benefit books.

A judge, who expressed surprise that the DPP had consented to a summary disposal of the case, said the couple’s unlawful enterprise led to a sad cycle of debt for many people in the city.

Brendan Wallace, aged 35, and his 34-year-old wife, Patricia, took possession of child benefit books belonging to clients and lent them back when mothers went to draw benefits at a local post office.

A ledger used by the Wallaces to record loans contained 43 different names.

The couple, with an address at Farnleigh, Westbury, Corbally, pleaded guilty to a number of charges of illegal possession of child benefit books. They were also charged with having an extendable black baton and mace spray.

The offences related to incidents at Athlunkard Street on August 1 last. Garda Mary Walsh of Mayorstone station, in reply to Inspector Gerry McNamara, said the offences came to light as a result of a surveillance operation at Athlunkard Street.

The Wallaces would park outside the local post office and people would approach the car and be given child benefit books by Brendan Wallace. On leaving the post office, ‘clients’ would return to the car and hand to Wallace amounts of cash along with the benefit books.

Ms Wallace would enter transactions in a ledger.

Recognisances were fixed for appeal purposes.

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