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Woman jailed for rent supplement fraud

By Brion Hoban

A woman who received €27,000 in rent supplements for an address she had vacated years earlier has been jailed for ten months.

Sandra Kavanagh (40) with an address at Kildonan Road, Finglas West, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four sample counts of making a gain by deception by receiving payments of rent supplement on dates between September 24, 2015 and June 7, 2018.

Detective Garda Jason Weir told Ronan Prendergast BL, prosecuting, when evidence was heard in the case last year that Kavanagh had previously resided at an address in Dublin 8 which she left in August 2015.

Kavanagh continued to collect rent supplement payments despite no longer living at the address.

Det Gda Weir said Kavanagh collected 130 payments between September 2015 and June 2018. The total amount of money she received during this period amounted to €27,079.

Kavanagh has 67 previous convictions, including convictions for robbery, theft, production of a knife, public order and road traffic offences.

Det Gda Weir agreed with Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending, that his client was involved in an accident in 2008 which left her with “significant physical injuries”. He agreed that Kavanagh has been living with friends and in hostels since leaving the address in August 2015.

Mr Ó Dúnlaing said that due to the accident in 2008, his client has found herself under the care of various carers including her mother. He said that since the onset of Covid, hostels have not been in a position to take her in and she has been staying with a friend.

Counsel submitted that if Kavanagh were to secure some kind of proper accommodation she would be in a better position to take advantage of the supports people are trying to put in place for her. He said his client was not someone “of any great means”.

Judge Pauline Codd noted the aggravating factors were the duration of the offence and that on 130 occasions the accused had dishonestly taken what she was not entitled to. She set a headline sentence of four years imprisonment.

Judge Codd noted in mitigation that Kavanagh had difficult personal circumstances and significant medical and mental health problems.

She sentenced Kavanagh to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the final 20 months on strict conditions including that she remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for 20 months post release.

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