‘A little bit of reality’ for woman who claimed €7,800 in PUP while working

Kilmallock District Court

A COUNTY Limerick woman admitted before a court that she had fraudulently claimed €7,800 in pandemic unemployment payments while she was still working full time.

Paula Bowman, of Dublin Road, County Limerick, pleaded guilty to charges of making false and misleading statements and furnishing information she knew to be false.

Judge Patricia Harney, presiding over Kilmallock District Court, heard that Ms Bowman had falsely claimed to be unemployed due to the pandemic and had claimed social welfare payments of €7,800 in total across 2020 and 2021.

While claiming the payments, Ms Bowman had been working as an employee of a supermarket chain, the court heard.

Her solicitor told the court in mitigation that “her husband was out of work and they have two teenage children to support”.

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“She is very apologetic and she has made full admissions and held her hands up.”

Giving evidence,  social welfare inspector James O’Connor told the court that none of the money has been paid back. Ms Bowman’s legal representative said she had written, stating that she would pay €50 per week until the amount was paid off.

However Mr O’Connor said he had no record of any such correspondence and the solicitor added he did not have any documentation in court regarding the communication.

Ms Bowman was also facing a charge of not appearing in court on the last occasion that the case was listed.

Her solicitor said she had been notified of the date of the case by email “but she had not checked her email and when she did it was too late. She didn’t know she was meant to be in court and that is why she didn’t appear.”

Judge Harney noted that “the State has seen no paperwork and she failed to appear on the first occasion, a little bit of reality has to enter into this.”

The Judge adjourned the matter to September 19 to allow Ms Bowman bring evidence to court that she has made moves to repay the money.