A man told the Probation Service that he was providing for his family when he stole €185,000 in social welfare payments and that it was a victimless crime, a court has heard.
Christy Keogh (70) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal to multiple charges of social welfare fraud which were representative counts of offending that spanned two decades.
Keogh, of Greenfort Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty to 23 charges of stealing a total of €185,622.48 by stealing both jobseeker’s allowance and disability allowance on dates between December 1996 and July 2018. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Elma Sheahan noted from a report from the Probation Service that Keogh did not regard his offending behaviour as having any victims. While he acknowledged that he had broken the law he believed that he had provided for his family without causing harms to others.
'Little insight into his offending'
He had little insight into the cost his crime had on the exchequer and how that impacted on the provision of services to the community and therefore “little insight into his offending”, the report stated.
Judge Sheahan noted also that although Keogh had paid back just over €600 by a reduction in his legitimately claimed State pension, for some unknown reason these deductions stopped and Keogh never sought to have them reinstated.
She acknowledged that he now had €500 in court but said there has been “no repayment of any significance made” and added that the crime involved planning, was pre-meditated and repetitive.
Judge Sheahan also acknowledged that Keogh had no previous convictions but said this fact has to be considered along with the repeated nature of undetected offending. She sentenced Keogh to three years in prison but suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions.
Garda Anne Masterson told Michael Hourigan BL, prosecuting, that Keogh claimed both jobseeker’s allowance and disability allowance while he was working for a bus company by using a different PPS number.
A complaint was made to gardaí in October 2019 and a warrant later secured for Keogh’s bank account. His employer was spoken to, and he confirmed the PPS number that had been provided by Keogh to enable him to work with them.
Keogh was arrested in July 2020 and made full admissions in a subsequent interview. Garda Masterson confirmed that a total of €185,622.48 was fraudulently claimed by Keogh in a variety of benefits and allowances while he was also in full-time employment.
She told Mr Hourigan that following his detection, payments had been deducted from his State pension up until September 25th, 2020, when the deductions seized, and they had not been reinstated.
Garda Masterson agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that his client’s pleas were of assistance to the State. She accepted that he is a married man with four children and there was a huge amount of people to support him.
Mr Rea said there was “genuine love” for his client, who has worked his whole life, but his health has since deteriorated. He had asked for the case to be adjourned to allow for the preparation of a report from the Probation Service.