Man jailed for welfare fraud admits to further €18,000 false claim in benefit

Leendert Stolk pleaded guilty to 22 sample counts of wrongfully claiming social welfare

Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

A Dutch man who was jailed for four years for claiming over €225,000 in social welfare while living outside of Ireland has admitted to falsely claiming a further €18,000 in child benefit.

Leendert Stolk fraudulently used a school stamp while claiming child benefit for his two children between 2011 and 2018, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Monday.

Stolk (50), of Coppice Road, Worthing, Sussex, England pleaded guilty to 22 sample counts of wrongfully claiming social welfare and four counts of using a false instrument. He is currently 13 months into a four-year prison sentence for welfare fraud during the same period.

The child benefit fraud only came to light after Stolk’s wife was arrested in relation to it, the court heard. Stolk then made full admissions to gardaí.

Judge Patricia Ryan ordered that the fresh charges be taken into consideration, meaning Stolk’s prison sentence will remain the same.

The court previously heard that Stolk moved to Ireland with his family in 2009 and left the jurisdiction in late 2010.

He continued to make claims for jobseeker’s allowance, rent allowance, back to work allowance and back to school allowance for seven years after leaving the country, as well as the child benefit claims. He regularly returned to the country, often every two weeks, to claim the payments.

The court heard he used a stamp from a school in Meath when filling out the child benefit forms.

Letters were sent to a house in the Dublin 15 area in which he resided while in Ireland and then redirected to his actual address outside of the country.

Authorities began investigating him in July 2018 when a letter was returned to the Department of Social Protection instead of being redirected and gardaí­ discovered that the house was in fact empty.

Stolk was asked to provide proof he did not have a redirection in place and handed over a fraudulent declaration he claimed was from An Post.

Including the child benefit claims, Stolk falsely claimed over €244,000 during the seven-year period.

Stolk, who is originally from the Netherlands, had no previous convictions prior to the fraud.

The court previously heard he was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and that, while living in South Africa, he was kidnapped and confronted by an armed intruder to his property on two separate occasions.