Man who fraudulently claimed dead parents’ pensions for 33 years gambled away close to €1 million, court hears

A MAN who fraudulently claimed the pensions of his dead parents for three decades has gambled away the close to €1 million he received in payments, a court has heard.

Donal O’Callaghan of Churchfield Green, Cork appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court having pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud dating back 33 years. Some 68 counts relate to theft whilst five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims.

Donal O’Callaghan at Cork Court where he appeared on fraud charges Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

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Donal O’Callaghan at Cork Court where he appeared on fraud charges Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Mr O'Callaghan appeared before Judge Helen Boyle

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Mr O’Callaghan appeared before Judge Helen Boyle

Defence Barrister Ray Boland, SC, told Judge Helen Boyle that his 58-year-old client suffers from a major gambling problem.“The situation is that he has a gambling addiction and gambled it all away.”Mr Boland said that his client knows he is facing prison.

However, he said Mr O’Callaghan needs to sign up for a gambling diversion programme given his chronic addiction.

He said: “I made him aware that he is likely to face a custodial sentence at the end of all of this.”A report from a psychotherapist was handed in to the court.

Mr Boland asked that sentencing in the case be adjourned until February 15 of next year for the preparation of a probation report.

An adjournment will also facilitate Mr O’Callaghan attending a gambling diversion programme. Mr Boland said that his client wasn’t a flight risk.

He said: “He lives alone in Churchfield. He is not a flight risk.

He has a realistic attitude in terms of what the penalty will be. I just want to put up as much mitigation as possible.”

Judge Boyle remanded Mr O’Callaghan on continuing bail until his court appearance next year.

She said that it was a “significant” case involving a “substantial” amount of money. Meanwhile, the theft charges state that O’Callaghan claimed pension payments in respect of his parents, Donald and Eileen, pretending they were still alive when in fact they were dead.

All of the theft offences occurred at Cork GPO on Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork with the forgery offences taking place at the office of the Department of Social Protection on Hanover Street in Cork.

LONG RUNNING FRAUD

The offences are contrary to Section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences Act) 2001 and contrary to section 251 (1) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.

The fraud occurred between 1987 and 2019. Mr O’Callaghan had signed signed pleas of guilty at district court level last months.

Free legal aid was previously granted in the case and Mr O’Callaghan signed a guilty plea.

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