No jail for man who fraudulently collected his brother's State pension

Albert Monahan
Albert Monahan

A pensioner who fraudulently collected his brother's State pension for seven years has avoided jail.

Albert Monahan received 356 weekly payments of €219, totalling €77,964, while assuming the identity of his brother Peter Monahan who lives in England.

Monahan (73) of Carnlough Road, Cabra, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four sample counts of theft at Berkeley Road Post Office, Phibsborough, on dates between November 2007 and October 2014, and one count of producing a false instrument.

Suspending a four year sentence in full, Judge Melanie Greally told Monahan she would have imprisoned him were it not for his poor health.

When first questioned, Monahan, who has two previous convictions for using false cheques, told gardaí “I knew I would be caught but it was just too tempting”.

He told gardaí he used the money to install new bay windows and new floors in his home and on stocking his fridge with good food.

He said his brother had told him he could “do what he wanted with his labour book”.

Garda Owen Tracy told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting that Albert Monahan's brother, Peter, lived in England until 2006 when he returned to Ireland to live with Albert and legitimately claimed disability benefits.

After Peter's return to England in 2007 Albert Monahan forged a signature to apply for his brother's pension, to be collected at Berkeley Road Post Office where he felt he would not be recognised.

Gda Tracy said he visited Monahan's home in October 2014 on foot of an investigation carried out by the Department of Social Protection and asked to speak with Peter Monahan.

Monahan told him that Peter had been living in England since 2007. He agreed to visit Mountjoy Garda Station the following day to be interviewed.

He admitted the fraud immediately and told gardaí “I'm terribly sorry, I couldn't help it, I just got greedy.”

Gda Tracy agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that Monahan made full admissions at the earliest opportunity. He also agreed that Monahan appeared to be in poor health.

Asking Judge Greally to consider not imposing a custodial sentence, Mr Spencer said that Monahan had suffered several heart attacks and had undergone triple bypass surgery.

Mr Spencer indicated that Monahan had no means to repay any of the stolen money but would be willing to repay the Department of Social Protection by way of a deduction from his legitimate social welfare payments.

Describing Monahan as a person who had played loosely with other people's property over the course of his life, Judge Greally said the only reason she was not imprisoning him was his ill health.