A man who fraudulently claimed the pensions of his dead parents for 33 years has gambled away 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 over three decades, of which 68 counts relate to theft whilst five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims.
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.
"I made him aware that he is likely to face a custodial sentence at the end of all of this," Mr Boland said.
A report from a psychotherapist was handed in to the court. Mr Boland asked that sentencing in the case be adjourned until February 15th 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 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.
Theft and forgery
The theft charges state that O'Callaghan claimed pension payments in respect of his parents pretending they were still alive when in fact they were dead.
All 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.
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 pleas of guilty at district court level last months.
Free legal aid was previously granted in the case. Mr O’Callaghan was claiming the payments in the name of his deceased parents, Donald and Eileen.
At the previous hearing of the case at Cork District Court earlier this year, Garda Mick Nagle, who is based at the Department of Social Protection, said that he arrested Donal O’Callaghan following an investigation. He gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution in the case.
Garda Nagle said the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed trial by indictment at Cork Circuit Criminal Court and also consented to the case being sent forward from the district court on a signed plea of guilty.
Mr O'Callaghan signed pleas of guilty in the district court and was sent forward to the circuit court for sentencing.