busted flush  | 

Fraudster gambled away €1m worth of pension payments for deceased parents

The fraud was conducted over a period of 33 years by O'Callaghan
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Ralph Riegel

A MAN who admitted a €1 million social welfare fraud conducted over 33 years by claiming pension payments for his deceased parents had gambled the entire amount away.

Don O'Callaghan (58) of Churchfield Green, Cork appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on signed pleas of guilty to a total of 73 charges.

Judge Helen Boyle was told by defence counsel Ray Boland SC that O'Callaghan suffers from a serious gambling problem.

"The situation is that he has a gambling addiction and gambled it all away," he said.

The gambling addiction will be outlined to the court as a mitigating factor.

But Mr Boland said he made his client fully aware of the serious nature of the matters before the court.

"I made him aware that he is likely to face a custodial sentence at the end of all of this," Mr Boland said.

The amount involved in the offences is almost €1 million.

A psychotherapist report had been conducted to assist the court but Mr Boland said it was recommended that his client now attend a gambling diversion programme given his addiction.

Mr Boland said he was applying for sentencing to be adjourned until February 15 next to allow this to happen.

Jane Hyland BL, for the State, said there was no objection to the matter being adjourned to facilitate this.

Cork District Court was previously told that 68 of the counts facing O'Callaghan involved theft.

Five counts related to false documentation submitted in respect of fraudulent claims to the Department of Social Protection (DSP).

The district court was told that the 73 charges related to dates over a 33 year period.

Judge Boyle adjourned sentencing and remanded O'Callaghan on continuing bail terms.

"It is a significant number of charges and a substantial amount of money," she said.

Judge Boyle also ordered a Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) report to be conducted in advance of sentencing next year.

She noted the "realistic attitude" of O'Callaghan as to the potential penalty he may face at sentencing.

The court was previously told by Garda Mick Nagle, who is assigned to the Department of Social Protection, that the charges followed an investigation launched into pension claims in the names of the defendant's father and mother.

Claims were made when both were deceased.

Garda Nagle said the Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered trial by indictment before a judge and jury or that the case could be sent forward from the district court on a signed plea of guilty.

O'Callaghan appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month on a signed plea of guilty.

Each of the 68 theft charges alleged that pension payments were claimed in respect of his parents, pretending they were alive when in fact they were deceased.

O'Callaghan was remanded on continuing bail pending sentencing.

He did not speak during the brief hearing.

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