Man claimed €500,000 in dead parents’ pensions, court hears

Donal O’Callaghan (58) falsely claimed benefits for 30 years after mother and father died

A man gambled away €500,000 that he stole from the Department of Social Protection by falsely claiming pension payments for both his parents for over 30 years after they died, a court has heard.

Donal O'Callaghan (58) of Churchfield Green, Churchfield in Cork had previously pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to 73 charges of theft and forgery in relation to claiming payments in the name of his deceased parents, Donald and Eileen between 1987 and 2019.

O'Callaghan pleaded guilty to 68 charges of theft and five counts of forgery, at the Cork GPO on Oliver Plunkett Street and at the Department of Social Protection on Hanover Street in Cork.

O’Callaghan stole money totalling €527,000 in the form of the joint State pensions of his deceased parents which was the property of the Department of Social Protection or its predecessors, contrary to Section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences Act) 2001.


O’Callaghan also made false written representations when completing eligibility certificates for State pension payments for his deceased parents contrary to Section 251 (1) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.

O'Callaghan's counsel, Ray Boland SC, told the court that he had obtained a report from a psychotherapist who recommended that his client embark on a gambling diversion programme. Mr Boland said he was not aware of any such programme in the State.

“The situation is that he had a gambling addiction and he gambled it away,” said Mr Boland, adding that if the matter was adjourned to allow his client liaise with the Probation Service in the hope that they might be able to assist in recommending a gambling treatment programme.

Mr Boland said he was seeking that O’Callaghan would engage on a gambling treatment programme as a mitigating factor.

“I’ve made him aware that he is likely to face a custodial sentence at the end of all this, notwithstanding the treatment that I am proposing as a mitigation factor,” said Mr Boland, adding that his client did not pose any flight risk if remanded on continuing bail.

Judge Helen Boyle acceded to Mr Boland's request for an adjournment and she requested the Probation Service to prepare a report on O'Callaghan whom she remanded on bail to appear again at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on February 15th.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times