A man who defrauded the State of €248,800 in social welfare payments and other benefits has been sent to jail for 12 and a half years.
Judge Anthony Kennedy described Paul Murray as a professional fraudster who was shamelessly cheating the system left, right and centre while he enjoyed plenty of excitement travelling the world.
Murray pleaded guilty at a sitting of Mullingar Circuit Court to fraudulently claiming €248,800 while he was a resident in Thailand and elsewhere around the world.
The court was told that Murray, aged 63, with no fixed address had made the fraudulent claims and received the payments while holding seven international passports with seven driving licences and the money had been paid into seven different bank accounts between 2005 and 2010.
The court was told he had seven bank accounts in Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank, but all that remained in these accounts was a sum of €11,000.
According to the court this is the biggest individual fraudulent welfare claims ever in the State.
Murray said he had remorse for what he had done and the embarrassment it had caused to his family.
He said he spent the money, which was fraudulently claimed on holidays in Thailand, South America, Asia and Europe.
He said he was a part owner of an apartment in Thailand but it is not in his name.
Between 2006 and 2010 he repeatedly made claims for disability allowance, job seekers allowance and supplementary welfare income in his own name and the names of other people, most of the claims were made through to HSE Community Welfare Officer.
He provided doctor and medical certificates from a series of different doctors over a four-year period and most of the payments were made electronically to the bank accounts involved.
The fraud only came to light when his brother made an application from Australia for an Irish passport.
The passport authorities realised that his brother’s picture had been used by Murray on a previous occasion.
Gardaí in Mullingar were notified and a four-month investigation by the Department of Social Protection came to a conclusion when Mr Murray was arrested after making a fraudulent claim at a social welfare office in Cavan in 2010.
During a five-year period he had made fraudulent claims in Roscommon, Athlone, Mullingar, Cavan and Trim.