Court hears Listowel man claimed over €35,000 in disability allowance while working in UK

A Listowel man travelled ‘once or twice a month’ from the UK to Kerry over a four-year period to claim over €35,000 in disability allowances, while working as a steel-fixer in the UK.

51-year-old Patrick Holly, of 24 O’Connell Avenue, Listowel appeared before Tralee Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, charged with knowingly concealing a material fact contrary to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.

He was charged with residing and working in the UK between November 9th 2011 and May 27th 2015, while at the same time obtaining a disability allowance of €188 per week.
Tralee Circuit Criminal Court heard the evidence given by Garda Hilary Lynch of the Special Investigation Unit.

She told prosecuting barrister for the State, Tom Rice, that from September 8th, 2010 Mr Holly had been in receipt of disability allowance of €188 per week, which was paid into his bank account.

Upon receipt of ‘confidential information’, Gardaí obtained details of flights purchased by Mr Holly from Ryanair under the Data Protection Act.

The bookings had been made using an English address and a flight pattern she said indicated the accused was actually resident in the UK.

On June 2nd 2015, Mr Holly was arrested in Farranfore Airport and brought to Tralee Gardaí station where he admitted knowing that he was not entitled to the disability allowance.

He was at the time, she said, earning £800 sterling per week as a ‘steel-fixer’ in the UK, and was residing in Reading.

State barrister Tom Rice told the court the loss of revenue to the State for claims made by Mr Holly during the period from November 9th 2011 to May 27th 2015 amounted to €35,203.

The court heard Mr Holly was paying back the State at a rate of €50 per week and that, so far, €3,400 had been paid

Judge Thomas O’Donnell queried the frequency of travel to and from the UK, to which Garda Lynch replied ‘once every month, or two months’.

Judge O’Donnell said Mr Holly should have signed off once he had secured employment; he adjourned the matter for 12 months but said the State should be ‘reimbursed for ever last euro’.