Old man jailed for claiming dead parents’ pensions for 33 years

A 59-year-old Cork man has been jailed for 3½ years for claiming pensions for his dead parents for 33 years and defrauding the State of more than €500,000.

Donal (Don) O’Callaghan, of Churchfield Green, Churchfield, claimed the pensions of his parents Donald and Eileen from 1987 to 2020. His father died in 1987, eight years after his mother’s death in 1979.

O’Callaghan fraudulently claimed the pensions on almost 1,700 occasions and a total of €527,000 was collected.

He pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud. A total of 68 counts related to theft and five related to false documentation in support of the claims.

O’Callaghan’s crime was uncovered in 2020 when a Centenary Bounty cheque of €2,540 was offered to his father, who would have been 100 years old that year.

It was one of the largest and longest-running cases of welfare fraud in the history of the State.

The facts of the case were outlined to Judge Helen Boyle at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday. She reserved her position overnight.

At the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Boyle said O’Callaghan was making sincere efforts to address his chronic gambling problem.

“The gambling impacts every aspect of your life. You are aware you have to deal with your chronic gambling addiction. Your life involved going to the bookies at noon and staying until at least 6 pm,” she said. “You use gambling to escape problems. You have made early steps to deal with that gambling addiction. I accept you are motivated to deal with your gambling problem.”

Judge Boyle also spoke of the adverse childhood experiences of O’Callaghan, noting he lost his mother as a teen and his father when he was 24.

She said the offense was in the “upper range of serious.”

News courtesy: Irish times

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