A Ballyshannon chef has appeared in court charged with forgery and theft from the Department of Social Protection.

Marcus Cullen pleaded guilty to a number of sample charges at Letterkenny Circuit Court after he falsely claimed a total of €7,598.30.

The court was told that Cullen he was seeking social welfare as a casual worker when working full time and was forging the signatures of his employers.

The dates of the offences were between February 2015 and November 2017.

Garda Greg Regan said he emailed Cullen on a number occasions before meeting and arresting him on December 13th, 2017.

He revealed how Cullen, aged 34, had signed casual job-seeker allowance dockets indicating that he had only worked one or two days a week or not at all.

Some of these dockets were signed by a former employer but when the employer was interviewed he said he had never signed such dockets.

Cullen was also filtering the money he received from the Department through two bank accounts, one in the AIB and another in Bank of Ireland.

Neither account was in his name but that of his sister and another friend.

The court was told that he worked in a number of places including the Hardy Baker Cafe in Bundoran and Kilronan Castle where he claimed he was only working part-time and forging casual job-seekers allowance dockets for other days.

Barrister Peter Nolan, instructed by solicitor Rory O’Brien, said his client was now paying back €30 a week out of his job-seekers allowance of €203.

The accused has now paid a total of €4,000 to the Department.

He said his client had not had an easy upbringing and had left home at 15 but was a hard-worker who was ashamed of what he had done and had expressed remorse.

He was currently a carer for his sister and her child and plans to pay back all the money the stole.

Judge John Aylmer said he needed time to consider the sentence and adjourned the case until April.


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