Woman avoids jail for €35,000 social welfare fraud15/06/2012 - 18:10:05
A young woman has avoided a jail term after she fraudulently claimed more than €35,000 in social welfare payments which she handed over to her father, extended family and drug addict boyfriend.
Rose Gavin (22) was described by her counsel Geraldine Biggs BL as being of low intelligence. She in unable to read and write and was identified as having special needs as young child.
She also witnessed her father being shot when she was 14 years old. He was unable to work again because of his injuries, suffered from depression as a result and died last year.
Gavin claimed job seekers allowance for three and half years by claiming to be her cousin Helen Maughan. She signed on each week as “Helen” but only managed to spell the name correctly on one occasion.
Gavin of St Berks Place, Kilbarrack pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of fraud by claiming job seeker’s allowance when claiming to be Ms Maughan and another charge of fraudulently applying for a social welfare card on dates between December 17, 2007 and January 18, 2011.
Judge Martin Nolan said it was a serious crime that normally warrants a custodial sentence to deter others from committing a similar offence.
He accepted that Gavin has a low IQ. He said she did however know that what she was doing was wrong but she may not have been in a position to “repulse a suggestion made by others”.
Judge Nolan said he had also taken into account that Gavin’s reward for the deception was “dispersed amongst a number of people” before he sentenced her to three years which he suspended in full.
Sean Guerin BL, prosecuting told Judge Nolan that the pleas were accepted on the basis of full facts and that Gavin had defrauded the State of €35,375 by claiming job seekers allowance she was not entitled to between September 3, 2007 and February 8, 2011.
Detective Garda Colm O’Rourke said gardai were alerted to the fraud by a special investigator from the Department of Social Protection in February 2011.
Gardai set up a surveillance operation in the office on the Navan Road in Cabra where Gavin was collecting the dole and witnessed her signing on as Ms Maughan and applying for a new social welfare card in the woman’s name.
She was arrested and although she continued to maintain she was Ms Maughan, she later made full admissions. She said Ms Maughan was her cousin and she had obtained her birth certificate and had used a friend’s utility bill as proof of address.
Det Gda O’Rourke agreed with Ms Biggs that it was “immediately apparent” on meeting Gavin that she had “low intellectual capacity” and that her language skills were “limited”.
He accepted that it was “obvious that she had someone else’s help” in the fraud and that the money had gone to her then boyfriend, her father and extended members of her family.
Gavin has previous convictions for road traffic offences and has not come to garda attention since her arrest.
Ms Biggs said it was a serious offence in which large sums of taxpayer’s money had been taken by her client.
She said her client had been “disadvantaged in nearly every sense”. She was identified as having special needs but remained in mainstream school where she was bullied.
Ms Biggs said that although her client was “vulnerable and open to suggestion”, she does not blame anyone else for her crime.
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