Woman gets three-year suspended sentence for welfare fraud

Monday 29 April 2013 22.32
Sibyl Montague pleaded guilty to flying home once a month to sign on for jobseekers' allowance
Sibyl Montague pleaded guilty to flying home once a month to sign on for jobseekers' allowance

A 33-year-old woman, who admitted flying to and from Ireland to fraudulently claim €43,000 in social welfare payments, has received a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Sibyl Montague, of Cois Coillte, Tivoli in Cork, had pleaded guilty to flying home once a month over a four-year period to sign on for jobseekers' allowance.

The court was told that she had repaid the money in full.

Judge Patrick J Moran said that when imposing a sentence he has to ask what benefit it would be.

He said that in this case he believed that the woman had learnt her lesson.

Earlier, Defence Counsel Siobhán Lankford told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that this was a case of grave dishonesty, but that it was an unusual case.

Her client was very remorseful and had co-operated fully when arrested by gardaí in October 2012.

She said the monies had been fully repaid and this had been at some cost.

The woman's mother had to sell some of her belongings, her father came up with some money, her cousin and two friends made up the rest.

She told the court that her client and her sister had been responsible for looking after their ill mother from an early age.

Her parents had separated when she was 12 years old.

Ms Lankford said Montague carried out the fraud while she was living in very poor circumstances in London, living from hand-to-mouth while studying for a Masters degree.

She said her client pleaded guilty as soon as possible, the gardaí were satisfied she would not reoffend and the DPP had been happy for the case to be dealt with at District Court level, but the judge there had refused jurisdiction.