Man (39) charged with 20 counts of Pandemic Unemployment Payment fraud

Accused charged with stealing over €6,000 in fraudulent claims over a six month period

Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

A 39-year-old man has been remanded on bail after he was charged after a garda investigation into allegations that Pandemic Unemployment Payments were claimed by a person outside of the country.

Khurram Cheema, formerly of Zonera Lodge, Pier Road, Kinsale, Co Cork but now living at Kippagh, Dunmanway, Co Cork was charged with 20 offences when he appeared at Bandon District Court.

An Irish citizen, Mr Cheema was charged that on dates between April 21st and September 29th, 2020, he stole money, namely Pandemic Unemployment Payments at AIB Bank, Patrick Street, Cork.

The charges allege Mr Cheema stole sums ranging from €203 to €350 and one sum of €1,176 on the various dates, contrary to Section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences Act) 2001.

Sgt Kevin Heffernan of Kinsale Garda station gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and said he had arrested Mr Cheema on March 24th and charged him with five offences to which he made no reply.

He said he had also arrested Mr Cheema on Thursday morning outside Bandon District Court and charged him with a further 15 offences and he again made no reply to these new charges after caution.

Sgt Paul Kelly said the DPP had directed that the case could be dealt with as a summary matter at District Court level unless Mr Cheema chose to have it tried by judge and jury in the Circuit Court.

Defence solicitor Graham Hyde said his client was happy to have the matter dealt with at District Court level and Judge Colm Roberts said he would accept jurisdiction, given the total sum was €6,650.

Sgt Kelly said that the gardai had no objection to bail once Mr Cheema was willing to abide by a number of bail conditions. These included a requirement that he reside at his new address at Kippagh, Dunmanway.

Gardai were also seeking that Mr Cheema would provide them with a mobile phone number and that he would keep the phone charged and in credit so that he could be contacted at all times.

They were also seeking to have him abide by a 10pm to 5am curfew, notify gardai of any change of address and surrender his Irish passport along with any other travel documents.

Lastly, they were also seeking that he be of good behaviour and Judge Roberts also made it a condition of Mr Cheema’s bail that he would abide by all Covid-19 public health regulations.

Mr Hyde said that his client, who had recently successfully applied to bring his wife and children from Pakistan to live with him in Ireland, was willing to abide by all the bail terms sought by gardai.

He said that his client was had previously worked as a taxi driver but his PSV licence had not been renewed and he was currently working as a self-employed courier.

He said that he would be applying for free legal aid but that he did not have a statement of means ready to submit to the court.

Judge Roberts adjourned the issue of granting Mr Cheema free legal aid and remanded Mr Cheema on the agreed bail terms to appear again at Bandon District Court on May 10th for either a plea or to fix a date to hear the case against him.