A casino gambling addict who fraudulently claimed €37,500 social welfare has been jailed for one year.
Judge Helen Boyle imposed a sentence of 18 months with the last six months suspended.
40-year-old Justyna Jozwiak of Convent Road, Doneraile, County Cork, previously pleaded guilty to the crime at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Jozwiak admitted multiple charges of claiming social welfare payments to which she was not entitled in respect of paying rent on a house.
She also confessed to theft charges amounting to a total of €37,500.
Garda Michael Nagle explained the background to the fraudulent claims made by the accused.
Between June and August 2019 she was receiving an emergency accommodation allowance to which she was genuinely entitled.
But then in August 2019 Cork County Council provided her with accommodation in Doneraile.
However, she continued to claim the emergency allowance after that – claiming a total of €35,700 despite having accommodation.
The offence involved her presenting forged invoices in furtherance of her false claims. The matter came to light when the department and the local authority realised that she was – on paper – living at two different addresses.
When challenged in relation to the matter she admitted creating invoices for rent she pretended to paying and receiving cheques.
Defence barrister, Nikki O’Sullivan, said the accused was heavily addicted to gambling in casinos. She said the Covid lockdown had been of some benefit in making it impossible for the accused to go to casinos. And the defendant weaned herself off gambling.
Ms O’Sullivan said it was not a case where the accused was getting money for going on holidays or lifestyle spending of that nature.
Judge Boyle said, “Aggravating factors are that it was a deliberate fraud on the public purse - a deliberate act that was ongoing and continuing until it was spotted by the social welfare office.
"You were yourself homeless initially and were entitled to receive the initial support.
"But you noticed a gap in the system that you exploited. That gap is no longer there.”