A man has been charged with 20 counts of falsely claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment over a near-six month period, totalling €6,650.
Khurram Cheema had already had five charges put to him when he was arrested on March 24 last and at Bandon District Court on Thursday another 15 charges were preferred against him.
Mr Cheema, a courier driver with an address at Apartment 2, Zunera Lodge, Quayside House on Pier Road, Kinsale, and now living in Dunmanway, is accused of theft arising from claiming the PUP from April 21 to September 29 last year.
Gardaí believe the 39-year-old was not in the country when he claimed the payment and was instead in Pakistan.
Sgt Kevin Heffernan of Kinsale Garda Station told Judge Colm Roberts that when the initial charges were put to Mr Cheema on March 24 last he had been bailed to appear before the court today.
The court heard he had made no reply to those charges and that when he met Sgt Heffernan on Thursday morning by appointment he had the other 15 new charges put to him, to which he also made no reply.
Sgt Paul Kelly, prosecuting, said Gardaí had no objection to bail but wanted conditions attached. They include that Mr Cheema reside at his address —later altered to Kippagh, Dunmanway — and that he be contactable by gardaí on his mobile phone.
Gardaí had initially requested that Mr Cheema present to gardaí when requested and that he sign on at Kinsale Garda Station between 9am and 9pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, but on being told that he was moving to Dunmanway Gardai withdrew that requirement.
Gardaí also requested that Mr Cheema hand in all his travel documents. Mr Cheema’s solicitor, Graham Hyde, said his client was an Irish national and had given gardaí his Irish passport. He said his client had an expired Pakistani passport and Judge Roberts requested that that also be surrendered.
Gardaí also want Mr Cheema to adhere to a curfew from 10pm to 5am, with the earlier start time to facilitate Mr Cheema’s work as a courier.
Mr Hyde said his client had worked as a taxi driver for a number of years but his PSV licence was recently not renewed and so he had turned to driving as a courier. The court heard he was self-employed and that he had just successfully applied to have his wife and children join him from Pakistan.
“The centre of his business and family are here,” he said, adding this client was not looking to leave the country.
Mr Hyde also said his client was electing for the matter to be dealt with in the district court and said he would be applying for legal aid.
Mr Hyde also sought disclosure from Gardai in relation to the case.
The matter was adjourned to May 20 next when either a plea will be entered or a date will be fixed for a hearing.