A Gaoth Dobhair man, who conned the Department of Social Protection out of a total €134,000, would need to win the Lotto to pay back the State, a court has heard.
Judge Paul Kelly made the remark as he heard that Micheal O’Donnell, Lower Brinaleck was paying back €30 per week to the Department.
The judge said he was “at a loss for words at the scale of the deception” at a previous sitting.
The deception was carried out over a period of 15 years, the court heard.
The defendant, Micheal O’Donnell, Lower Brinaleck, Gweedore was prosecuted for a period of four years and pleaded guilty to the deception that came to a total of €29,885.29 for four sample charges in 2004, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
O’Donnell pleaded guilty to these four sample charges, at Dungloe District Court.
He pleaded guilty to a charge that on June 17 2004, for the purpose of obtaining payment for Jobseeker’s Allowance provided by the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 made a statement or representation on a form which was to your knowledge false or misleading in a material respect namely, that your spouse or partner had no capital when in fact you did have money in Allied Irish Bank.
He pleaded guilty to identical charges in respect of April 8 2014, September 6, 2016 and December 29 2015.
Donegal State Solicitor Ciaran Liddy told the court that the case was put back for a Probation Report.
He said the amount taken was €134,000 over a period of 15 years.
Judge Kelly said this was a very substantial case and there was not the remotest possibility of the total amount being paid back.
Defence solicitor Robert Ryan said the Probation Report showed that the defendant was at a low risk of re-offending.
His marriage had broken down and he was paying some maintenance.
The defendant had no work due to the pandemic but hoped to pay back the State when he got employment.
He was paying back €30 from his benefits.
Judge Kelly said that unless the defendant wins the Lotto, the State will not get its money back.
The judge convicted the defendant on the September 6 charge in 2016.
He imposed a Community Service Order of 120 hours in lieu of four months in jail.
The remaining charges were all taken into consideration.