A man who stole over €50,000 from the State through fake social welfare claims has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Father of four Thomas Lawrence, 32, of Foxborough Place, Lucan, Dublin faced 134 charges of theft from the Department of Social Protection between 2010 and 2011.

Garda Detective Scott Brown told prosecuting counsel Vincent Heneghan that Lawrence made false claims between December 2005 and July 2011 and that the total loss to the State was €53,479.

Lawrence pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten sample counts of theft of social welfare payments at Clondalkin Post Office, Ninth Lock Road, Clondalkin between 2010 and 2011.

Judge Martin Nolan said that this type of crime was difficult to detect and the court has a duty to deter it.

The court heard that Lawrence was arrested in July 2011 when he attempted to make a false claim under the name David McDonagh.

He was caught as part of a routine check on identification.

If he had succeeded, the nature of the payment would have been continuous, Det Brown said.

He said the other fraudulent payments were made out to the name of Patrick McDonagh and were continuous.

After his arrest, Lawrence told gardaí that he had purchased genuine identification documents from individuals in England and used these to start the false claims.

He said that once he started he found it difficult to stop.