Cork woman avoids jail for four-year €43k welfare fraud

A Cork woman living in London who flew home for one day every month to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance was given a three-year suspended jail sentence yesterday.

Sibyl Montague, of Cois Coillte, Tivoli, Cork, yesterday said: “I want to apologise for taking the money.

“I realise it was a really bad decision, and given the difficult circumstances.

“I wanted to remain close to my mum [who had health difficulties in Cork] and I also wanted to pursue a master’s degree in a prestigious university I was accepted in. Perhaps it was a bad decision all along. I am very sorry for the money I have taken. I will have to repay all the people who helped me.”

Siobhán Lankford, defending, said family and friends had gathered €43,000 to repay in full the amount of social welfare of which Montague defrauded the State over a four-year period.

Detective Garda Padraig Harrington told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that the regional inspector of social welfare, Brian Kearney, examined flight manifests and cross-referenced monthly flyers with the names of those signing on in Cork on a monthly basis, and that Montague was detected in this way.

Det Garda Harrington said the prosecution alleged that this fraud commenced on Jul 1, 2008, and did not come to an end until Oct 2012.

“Sibyl Montague was permanently resident outside the jurisdiction and flying back in once per month, claiming job seekers allowance,” Det Garda Harrington said. “She would fly in the night before and fly out the next morning after signing.”

When arrested in Oct 2012, Montague made full admissions.

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