A Dublin man who was working under two aliases for a cleaning company as well as fraudulently claiming social welfare for over two decades has been jailed for two years.
Edward McCann (66) defrauded the state of a total of €224,731 before he was discovered when his employer noticed a number he had been given for a potential new recruit was already saved in his phone under the name of a man already working for the company
McCann, of New Street, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 13 counts of social welfare fraud on dates between 1991 and 2015. He also pleaded guilty to having a false Irish driving licence. McCann has no previous convictions.
Judge Martin Nolan said McCann was an “industrious man” working in two jobs which were not well paid, but had been claiming social welfare he was not entitled to for 24 years when, by happenstance, this was detected after his suspicious employer reported him to social welfare.
He said although the amounts every year were small it was a prolonged fraud which involved planning to some degree. He noted McCann's guilty plea, co-operation, full admissions and the many references handed in on his behalf.
Judge Nolan said McCann deserved a custodial sentence, and taking into account the facts, mitigation and his age, he imposed a two year sentence.
The judge did not suspend any portion of the sentence as he said he thought it was unlikely that McCann would reoffend with any seriousness in the future so it was not necessary.
Garda Michelle Faughnan told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that an employee of the cleaning company was due to go on holiday so his manager was looking for a janitor to fill his role.
He was given a contact number for a replacement but when he went to ring it discovered the number was already in his phone for one of his employees he knew under another name.
It transpired McCann was working under two false names for the company with different dates of birth and fraudulently obtained PPS numbers. He was suspended and his employer reported the matter to the social welfare authorities.
An investigation uncovered he was also claiming unemployment assistance from 1991 to 2015.
The total stolen was €224,731. Garda discovered €32,000 and a driving licence in a false name was also discovered at his home and €12,000 was frozen in a credit union account.
McCann told gardai he had nothing to show for the money and that when he was younger he had gambled it.
No trappings of wealth
The garda agreed with Seoirse O Dunlaing BL, defending, that his client also owed money to Revenue in relation to his earnings under the two names. She agreed they were minimum wage jobs and there had been no trappings of wealth. She agreed he made full and frank admissions.
Mr O Dunlaing said McCann came from a large family, left school early and fell into cleaning work. He said arrangements were in place to make payments to social welfare and to the revenue.
He handed in testimonials on his clients behalf outlining his charitable activities and work in the community.
He asked the court to take into account the difficulty of Covid-19 in serving a sentence, with 23 or 24 hour lockdown and difficulties in seeing family, particularly for someone going into custody for the first time.
He said it was a serious offence but asked the court to take into account his plea, remorse, the restitution being made and his previous good character.