Jailed for €248,000 welfare deception

The Irish Times – Friday, July 22, 2011

A MAN who lived in Thailand and travelled back to Ireland to commit social welfare fraud claimed €248,000 under nine different names over 30 years.

Paul Murray (63), of no fixed abode, was jailed for 12½ years at Mullingar Circuit Court for offences described as audacious and breathtaking.

Judge Anthony Kennedy imposed a six-month sentence for each of 25 sample theft charges before the court and a concurrent sentence of three years for possession of a false passport. he said Murray had “shamelessly cheated the system” with “dizzying execution and control”, and commended gardaí and social welfare staff for their meticulous inquiry.

Only €11,000 of the money remains in his seven bank accounts. The court also heard he received a €37,000 inheritance while he was lodging fake claims between 2002 and 2010.

Murray was living in Thailand but returned here every three months to claim jobseeker’s allowance. he also fraudulently claimed disability and supplementary welfare allowances.

Murray initially claimed disability allowance in 2005 when he was diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, but when he saw how easy it was to access the system, he used false documents to make further claims.

Murray was caught when his brother Patrick in Australia innocently applied for the passport which Paul had already taken out in his name, tipping off passport officials, who contacted the Department of Social Protection.

Despite being warned he would be in trouble, he returned home to sign on in Cavan on October 19th last, where Det Garda Peter Kelly was waiting for him. “You’ve caught me red-handed,” he told the officer, and showed him where about 50 supporting documents, many false, were hidden.

He co-operated fully with the inquiry, which ran to six volumes of evidence and more than a hundred pages of interviews.

Murray had served time in the UK in 1994 for similar offences there involving a total of £30,000.

Giving evidence, Murray did not indicate any remorse for the cost to the State, but said he regretted the shame to his family. he said he came back to Ireland despite the warning about his brother’s passport application because “I didn’t believe I would be caught.” His own legitimate disability application became invalid when he was no longer resident in the State.

At one point, Judge Kennedy stopped technical evidence to say he himself needed eyes in the back of his head to keep up with this “multifaceted fraudster”.

“‘he thought he was immune,” concluded the judge, noting there was no plan to return the money. he refused leave to appeal severity of the sentence.

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Jailed for €248,000 welfare deception


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