Man living in Lanzarote convicted of €30,000 benefit fraud over three years

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Gary Mulvany
Gary Mulvany

A Dublin man fraudulently claimed almost €30,000 in benefits for three years when he was living in Lanzarote, a court has heard.

Gary Mulvany, 37, who now resides at an apartment in Summerhill, Dublin 1, has been convicted of benefit fraud in a prosecution brought by the Department of Social Protection.

The offence can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and/or a six-month sentence.

Dublin District Court heard he failed to tell the social welfare authorities that from July 2008 until May 2011 he was not living in the country and he continued claiming disability allowance.

Judge John O'Neill was furnished with pre-sentence reports on the accused and said Mulvany had a childhood “that no youngster should have gone through”. He noted the 37-year-old had co-operated with the Probation Service and he adjourned sentencing until next year.

Defence solicitor Brian Keenan told Judge O'Neill his client is a person “with a long history of offending going back 15 years”.

He said the case relates to Mulvany failing to notify the social welfare office that had been living in Lanzarote. Mr Keenan said that Mulvany had previously been a heroin addict and has HIV.

Judge O'Neill was told the 37-year-old got €29,000 after he moved to the Spanish island and “did not realise he should have notified the department”. Mr Keenan said Mulvany apologises for his behaviour.

Mulvany had contested the charge but was found guilty of the offences and Mr Keenan said his client now accepts he should have told the social welfare authorities.
The defence solicitor said Mulvany has “detoxed” but was not suitable for community service because of his disability, Mr Keenan said.

Judge O'Neill was told Mulvany still gets disability allowance but €28.20 is being deducted from it every week to cover the amount defrauded from the Department of Social Protection. Some €2,500 has been given back so far.

Prosecution solicitor, Edel Haughton, said that at the current rate it will take 18 years for him to pay back all the money.

Pleading for leniency Mr Kennan said his client was aware “a custodial sentence was on the table” but he asked the court to consider suspending it adding that his client accepted his behaviour was gratuitous.

Judge O'Neill said Mulvany should be given credit for his co-operation with the Probation Service and, he added, the impression he made on them was sincere.

He said he did not doubt the contents of the pre-sentence report furnished to the court and Mulvany “had an early childhood which was a childhood that no youngster should have gone through”.

Judge O'Neill adjourned the case until next April and asked for an updated report. 

- Tom Tuite