Benefit cheat gave £96,000 to dying pal
A fraudster who spent a £100,000 inheritance on a terminally-ill friend to allow him to live his last days in the Canary Islands has been allowed to walk free from prison.
The Crown Court heard that while his friend lived out his days on Lanzarote, 52-year-old David Laurence Foley remained in Belfast, claiming almost £36,000 in income support and housing benefit on his Russell Court home.
Freeing him, Judge Gemma Loughran said that fraudster Foley knew exactly what he was doing when claiming benefits he wasn't entitled to and had behaved in a totally reprenhensible and dishonest way.
Prosecution lawyer Jonathan Lowry said that in September 2005 Foley received a £96,000 inheritance but failed to tell the authorities of the windfall, continuing to claim benefits, amounting to £35,698.98 for income support and housing.
Mr Lowry added that normally confiscation proceedings would be taken against such fraudsters in an effort to recoup benefits, but not in Foley's case, as he has no discernable assets.
Defence lawyer Declan Quinn said Foley was repaying the authorities just under £20 a week from Disability Living Allowance he receives for alcoholism and depression.
Mr Quinn said that the inheritance Foley received from his godmother was largely spent on a life-long terminally-ill friend to live out the last 13 months of his life on the island of Lanzarote.
The lawyer added that when Foley, who stayed in Belfast, initially began claiming benefits he was entitled to them, and the problem only arose when he had to renew his application and failed to inform the authorities of the change in his circumstances.