A Dutch man who falsely claimed over €200,000 in social welfare while living outside of Ireland has received a four-year prison sentence.
Leendert Stolk, 50 and with an address at Coppice Road, Worthing, Sussex, England, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to wrongfully claiming social welfare and submitting false instruments on dates between June 2011 and June 2018.
Judge Patricia Ryan handed down a headline sentence of eight years but reduced this to four years after taking into consideration his plea of guilty, his expressions of remorse and his personal circumstances which include an illness.
Garda Eimhear Keeshan told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that Stolk moved to Ireland with his family in 2009 and left the jurisdiction in late 2010.
Stolk continued to make claims for Jobseeker's Allowance, Rent Allowance, Back to Work Allowance and Back to School Allowance for seven years after leaving the country. He regularly returned to the country, often every two weeks, to claim the payments.
Letters were sent to a house in the Dublin 15 area in which he resided while in Ireland and then redirected to his actual address outside of the country.
Authorities began investigating him in July 2018 when a letter was returned to the Department of Social Protection instead of being redirected and gardaí discovered that the house was in fact empty.
Stolk was asked to provide proof he did not have a redirection in place and handed over a fraudulent declaration he claimed was from An Post.
In total Stolk falsely claimed €226,701.08 over the seven-year period. The court heard that he was entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance while he lived in Ireland but that he had never been entitled to Rent Allowance.
Stolk has no previous convictions. He is originally from the Netherlands, is married and has two children.
Gda Keeshan agreed with Tom Neville BL, defending, that his client displayed no great signs of accumulated wealth. Stolk and his family brought to court €2,500 in compensation as a "small gesture".
Mr Neville said that his client was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He said that while living in South Africa, Stolk was kidnapped in 2005 and in 2007 he was confronted by an armed intruder to his property.
The court heard he falsely claimed €107,914.88 in job seeker's allowance, €32,006 in back to work allowance, €2,205 in back to school allowance and €84,575.20 in rent allowance.