Dublin debt collector claimed €20,000 in disability benefits while he was working

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Donal O'Neill pleaded guilty to claiming €20k in benefits
Donal O'Neill pleaded guilty to claiming €20k in benefits

A DEBT collector is awaiting sentence after he pleaded guilty to claiming more than €20,000 in disability benefits while he was working.

Donal O'Neill, 46, with an address at Shanliss Avenue, Santry, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty to breaking social welfare regulations and claiming payments while he was employed.

The charges stated he failed to notify the Department of Social Protection that he was commissioned for work on a contract for services basis which affected his entitlement to disability allowance, and he made a false statement.

Solicitor Joseph Maguire, for the Department, told Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court that O'Neill had been working for a debt collection company while claiming a disability allowance. He said the total amount of the fraud was €20,084 and to date O'Neill has repaid €3,260.

The debt collector still owes €16,804 to the social welfare authorities, the court heard.

Judge O'Neill heard he has been repaying the money at a rate of €320 a month and it will take four years and four months until his debt in full repaid.

A standing order he had set up had stopped, the judge also noted.

The offence that can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and or a six-month sentence in addition to being made pay back the amount of benefits he wrongfully claimed.

The social welfare authorities have a mechanism to recover money owed to them, the court also heard.

O'Neill's solicitor said his client will continue to make payments and hopes to increase them to €400 a month and he was apologetic about the standing order “blip”.

Judge O'Neill adjourned the case until June and warned he wanted the O'Neill's repayments to be back in operation when the case resumes.