Donegal man with up to €300,000 in savings fined for claiming €26,000 in Jobseekers

By the time the revenue review ended there was €126,000 in various bank accounts.

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Donegal man with €300,000 in savings fined for claiming €26,000 in Jobseekers Allowance

A Dungloe man who claimed over €26,000 in Jobseekers Allowance whilst having up to €300,000 in savings has been fined €1,500, by a District Court Judge.

Thomas Donaghey, 63, of Leffin, Dungloe has since paid all the money back, the court heard.

Dungloe District Court heard that Thomas Donaghy signed the declaration that he only had €5,500 in the bank on February 18, 2013.

Department of Social Protection Inspector, Mary McGovern, told the court a review showed Donaghy had €111,806 in three accounts. He claimed over-payment of €26,366.43 in social welfare. He had since repaid the money. He had explained he failed to declare his full savings in case it would disqualify him from receiving payments.

She said by the time the revenue review ended there was €126,000 in various bank accounts.

He also admitted to having savings bonds worth around €170,000.

He had no previous convictions.

Defence solicitor, Sean Boner, told the court his client worked at the Cope, a retail and provisions store in Dungloe, all his working life.

At the time of the offences, which he admitted, he took time off work to look after his mother. She subsequently died.

Mr Boner said Donaghy was on carer’s allowance and, following his mother’s death, he applied for job-seekers allowance.

He regretted his offences which were a matter of embarrassment for him.

He was highly regarded in his community and had references from members of the community.

When Judge Kelly asked how Donaghy accumulated nearly €300,000 in cash, the court was told he lived at home frugally. Some of the money may have been his parents’ joint account but he accepted that probably 80 per cent of it was his.

He was now unemployed and would reach pension age in three years.

Judge Paul Kelly noted that there were people, like lone parents, in desperate need struggling to survive on a pittance from the State.

He added: "It must be very galling for people like that to see somebody wrongfully draw €26,366.

"It is a particularly mean-spirited type of crime."

Donaghy, of Leffin, Dungloe, was fined a total of €1,500 fined for a series of social welfare offences between February 18, 2013, and November 3, 2015.