A COUNTY Limerick man claimed the dole for over three years while having almost quarter of a million euros in his bank account.
William Beary, of Tullabeg, Pallasgreen pleaded guilty to six charges of making false declarations under the Social Welfare Act.
Kilmallock Court heard that Beary received over €38,000 in unemployment benefit while he had €240,500 available to him.
State solicitor Aidan Judge said the defendant applied for job seekers allowance in December 2009 and this continued until August 2013.
“There are six sample charges during this – snapshots in time. To receive the €188 a week you must sign that you meet all the criteria under the act and to inform them if there is any change to your circumstances. He drew down – in this time – a sum in excess of €38,000,” said Mr Judge.
When Beary starting claiming the dole he disclosed three bank accounts - there was €712 in one, another was in the red and the third had no funds at all.
Mr Judge said information came to the Minister that there were monies held by Beary. An investigation started and the defendant was re-interviewed. It was found that he had €240,500 available to him.
“This obviously is not in compliance with declarations he made at the time. When he was interviewed by Department staff he did co-operate and was frank and open,” said Mr Judge.
The State solicitor told Judge Marian O’Leary there is a maximum fine of €2,500 on each charge and/or six months in prison.
“The Minister [for Social Protection] takes a serious view,” said Mr Judge.
Michael Fitzgibbon BL, on behalf of Beary, said when his client received a letter from the Minister for Social Protection he “responded with alacrity”.
“That very day he rang to speak to the letter writer and arranged to call in. He co-operated fully, to such an extent that he had calculated through his own volition the amount of money he owed,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
A bank draft for the amount was presented on the day.
The barrister said his client is living at home with his elderly father, who is in excess of 80 and housebound.
“Mr Beary is his carer. His twin sibling is in a nursing home and he is their advocate. He is very supportive of his married sister who unfortunately lost her husband. He is not married and lives at home,” said Fitzgibbon.
The €240,500 was from the sale of a family pub in 2009.
“He was on a temporary contract that ran out. He was entitled to job seekers allowance for a year. To his shame he applied for a period that he was not entitled to.
“He takes his father to Mass, does the grocery shopping – his entire life revolves around his family. He has done a health care course with FETAC and received an award for it.
“He hopes to take up a career in health care and would be a very good candidate as he has been looking after his father,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
A letter was handed into Judge Marian O’Leary from Mr Beary Snr to enforce this.
Mr Fitzgibbon expressed his client’s remorse and “deep sense of shame”.
Judge O’Leary fined Beary €1,000 on each of the six summonses.
“I assume he hasn’t spent it,” said Judge O’Leary.
“Oh no, judge,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.