Dublin man avoids jail for falsely claiming social welfare

Swords man pleads guilty and makes arrangements to pay back €23,000


A Dublin man who falsely claimed over €23,000 in Jobseekers Allowance has been given a suspended sentence after the court heard he was trying to repay the money with his legitimate social welfare payments.

Michael Cawley (37) was charged with 116 counts of stealing money from the Department of Social Protection by making false claims every week for about three years.

Cawley of Rivermeade Avenue, Swords pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six sample counts of stealing money from the department at Malahide Post Office between February 20th, 2009 and May 26th, 2011.

Judge Leonie Reynolds heard Cawley has now made arrangements to repay the money weekly through a deduction in his current social welfare payments. She was also told that Cawley has the offer of a job as a labourer in the near future.

Judge Reynolds imposed a three-year sentence suspended for two years on condition that he continues the repayments and is of good behaviour.

On a previous hearing date, Detective Garda Jonathan Hayes said Cawley claimed a total of €23,767 by using another man’s social welfare card and claiming to be that man.

Cathal McGreal BL, defending, said that after his arrest in July 2011 his client told gardai he would pay all the money back and that he had brought €400 to court.

Counsel said that this was significant because “ironically” the money was coming out of his social welfare payments.

Mr McGreal said Cawley, a father of four, owed money because of a previous cocaine addiction. He said he also had issues with alcohol addiction.

Det Gda Hayes said that after a report from the Department of Social Protection, gardai searched Cawley’s home and found a social welfare card in the name of Thomas Mongan.

Cawley told gardai he had met Mr Mongan at a wedding. He said Mr Mongan said he was going to the UK and Cawley began using his card to sign on after that.

The court heard that Cawley has 23 previous convictions, including one for falsely using an document, one for burglary, five for theft and a number of road traffic offences.