Man who stole nearly €67k in social welfare payments receives suspended sentence
By Jessica Magee
A man who stole nearly €67,000 in social welfare payments while running a courier business with an annual turnover of over €100,000 has received a suspended jail sentence.
Richard Burbridge (46) of La Touche Rd, Bluebell, Dublin committed the offences while operating a courier contract for the Courts Service.
He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eleven sample counts of stealing from the Department of Social Protection between April 2009 and December 2014.
Garda Thomas Burke told the court on Tuesday that Burbridge collected the disability allowance payments on a regular basis from the post office in Inchicore.
The court was told Burbridge became eligible for the payments in 2009 because he was suffering from depression. The payments were conditional on his income not going over a certain threshold.
In the following years his courier business began making a turnover of up to €102,000, Gda Burke said. after expenses, his net profit ranged from €33,00 to €41,500. Burbridge had also inherited his family home mortgage-free from his parents.
Judge Karen O’Connor said the case was unlike most other social welfare fraud cases which involved people dealing with social deprivation.
She noted that the offending only came to light when a former employee tried to assess social welfare benefits and found that there was no record of PRSI payments from that employment.
Gda Burke said that the total amount in overpayments that Burbridge received without entitlement was €66,961.
John Noonan BL, defending, told the court his client had already begun making monthly repayments of €400 and had paid back just over €10,000. He said it would take around 12 years for the total amount to be repaid.
Judge O’Connor suspended a sentence of three years for five years on condition that Burbridge continue to make monthly repayments to the Department. She said if his circumstances changed in the five-year period the DPP could make an application to the court.
She said that people were more useful to the exchequer when they’re paying off the outstanding amounts rather than going to jail.
Mr Noonan said his client no longer worked and no longer claimed any welfare benefits.