Woman who claimed €69,000 in carer’s allowance while living in UK is jailed

Barrister tells court woman’s trip to Barbados was for funeral ‘not a jolly on State funds’

Mary O’Callaghan appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing having gathered €19,000 in compensation. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Mary O’Callaghan appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing having gathered €19,000 in compensation. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

A woman who fraudulently claimed over €69,000 in carer’s allowance for minding her elderly mother in Cork when she was living in the UK and travelling to Barbados and Morocco has been jailed for 18 months.

Painter and decorator Mary O’Callaghan of Woodvale Road, Beaumount, Blackrock in Cork appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing having gathered some €19,000 in compensation.

At a previous hearing Garda John Dineen, who is seconded to the Department of Social Protection, said Ms O’Callaghan (52) used a large amount of money she defrauded for foreign travel.

However, at a hearing of the case on Tuesday, defence barrister, Nikki O’Sullivan, said her client was keen to emphasise that her trip to Barbados was to attend a funeral and that it was “not a jolly on State funds”.

Garda Dineen told the court the case involved Ms O’Callaghan receiving payments for taking care of her mother in Cork when she was living in London. Payments were made from 2013 to 2019 when she was travelling back and forth from the UK.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said Ms O’Callaghan made flights of “consistent regularity” to and from England during her “egregious deliberate abuse of the social welfare system”.

He added that a custodial sentence was warranted given that such allowances are “hard won” even for people who deserve them. Ms O’Callaghan, who is a grandmother and a mother of five, was jailed for 18 months.