A Dublin man is to be sentenced next week after he admitted claiming his dead mother’s pension for 16 years.
Father-of-two Brian Bobey (64) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to fraudulently taking a total of €158,726 in benefits from the State between 1997 and 2013.
The court heard on Friday that Bobey began claiming his mother’s pension after her death in May 1997 and stopped in October 2013, following an investigation by the Department of Social Welfare.
None of the money has yet been repaid by Bobey, who still lives at his late parents' house in Walkinstown Parade, Dublin, with his partner and daughter.
Garda Niall Gaynor told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Bobey cooperated fully when a warrant was obtained to search his house, telling gardaí he knew it was “in relation to my mam’s pension.”
He met gardaí by appointment and identified himself on CCTV footage entering a post office to collect the pension.
Gda Gaynor agreed with counsel for the State that there was no evidence to suggest Bobey had been living “any sort of high life” from falsely claiming the pension.
The court heard Bobey himself was in receipt of disability benefit since he lost the sight in his right eye due to a tumour.
Bobey has 15 previous convictions, the most recent of which was in 2002 for drink driving.
The rest of the convictions are historic and relatively minor, dating back to 1971 when he was charged with loitering at the age of 18.
Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending Bobey, said his client had cared for both of his parents who suffered ill-health in their final years, his father having pre-deceased his mother by two years.
Bobey’s daughter Grace Bobey took the stand and told Mr O’Carroll SC that her father had always been there for her.
When counsel asked Ms Bobey her age, Judge Patricia Ryan intervened and told Mr O'Carroll SC that this "wasn't a very gentlemanly question" and didn't require an answer.
“He’s a great dad, I can’t fault him, to be honest,” said Ms Bobey, who agreed that her father had supported her in every way.
The court heard that Bobey was born in the council house where he is still a tenant, paying rent of €35 a week.
His income from social welfare is €195 a week, which Judge Ryan said she couldn’t impose upon as it was decided based on need.
Mr O’Carroll said his client had been one of six children whose father was a gambler and a violent alcoholic and would come home every Friday and tell his wife there was no money left.
As a child, Bobey worked for coalmen, breadmen and milkmen and gave the money to his mother, with whom he was very close.
The court heard that Bobey had been refused social welfare for a time because a previous employer had failed to declare him.
His counsel said he had a “very difficult life overall” and that one of his daughters, the mother of his grandchild, had died by suicide in the UK.
“He’s incredibly remorseful [for the offences],” said Mr O’Carroll.
Judge Ryan adjourned the case for sentencing next Friday, October 13.