Royal Navy sailor in Portsmouth faked GCSE certificates to try to get promotion - but spelled his own name wrong

A Royal Navy sailor faked GCSE certificates to make himself look smarter and gain promotion - but was caught out because he spelt his own name wrong.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th October 2021, 8:51 am
Leading Seaman Ian O'Mahoney at Bulford Military court. Picture: Ewan Galvin/Solent News & Photo Agency

Leading Seaman Ian O'Mahoney claimed he received B and C grades in his English GCSE exams as he pushed for the rank of Petty Officer, but he in fact scored two D grades which meant he was ineligible for promotion.

LS O'Mahoney, 33, forged two AQA exam board certificates and sent them off to show he had the necessary requirements as part of his bluff.

But, the bungling Royal Navy cook misspelt his own name as 'O'Omhoney'.

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Leading Seaman Ian O'Mahoney at Bulford Military court. Picture: Ewan Galvin/Solent News & Photo Agency

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He was asked to request a new certificate with the right spelling but eyebrows were raised when the ‘correct’ certificates were returned suspiciously faster than usual.

LS O'Mahoney later confessed he forged the certificates and admitted two counts of fraud at a court martial.

Today at Bulford Military Court, Wilts, he was given a suspended sentence.

Bulford Military court. Picture: Ewan Galvin/Solent News & Photo Agency

Major James Eveleigh, prosecuting, said LS O'Mahoney was recommended for promotion and had to upload certificates to prove he was competent in numeracy and literacy.

LS O'Mahoney, who was serving at the HMS Nelson naval base in Portsmouth at the time, uploaded documents in August 2020 claiming he had achieved a B and C in English at GCSE.

Maj Eveleigh said: ‘It was noticed the certificate had a mistake, his name was spelt wrong and instead of ‘O’Mahoney’ it said ‘O’Omhoney’.

‘At this stage there was no reason to believe the certificate was false.

‘LS O'Mahoney was asked to contact AQA and ask for an updated or amended GCSE certificate.’

But when his new certificate was uploaded the next month, those inspecting began to suspect it was false because it was 'received much quicker' than previous requests of AQA.

When it was investigated, AQA confirmed they had received no request for a new certificate and the grades did not match what was in their records.

Despite initially claiming the certificates were provided by his sister, he admitted to military police in March 2021 he forged the documents and pleaded guilty to fraud in July.

Maj Eveleigh added: ‘This is a minor example of an offence but there are examples of repeated dishonesty.

‘He was given repeated opportunities to come clean but he chose to double down on his lie.’

Alex Rynn, defending, said: ‘LS O'Mahoney knows what he did was wrong, he knows he shouldn't have done it and I can assure the court he is very sorry he did do it.

‘Of course there was a better way of ensuring he was eligible for promotion.’

Mr Rynn said when he was 16, the time he had to do his GCSEs, LS O'Mahoney was ‘very badly’ assaulted and suffered a severe head injury.

He said as a result it impacted his schooling and ‘he didn’t flourish at GCSE’.

Assistant Judge Advocate General Alistair McGrigor, sentencing, said ‘You broke the trust that is an essential element of members of the armed forces.

‘Faking is unfair to those who legitimately obtain their qualifications... they degrade their ones.

‘They leave the falsifier of the document potentially vulnerable to blackmail.

‘If you had succeeded in getting promotion you would almost certainly be dismissed.

‘We accept that your actions deceit proceeded no further than the first check of the certificate’s genuineness.’

LS O’Mahoney, who serves as head of the catering department aboard mine counter measures vessel HMS Brocklesby, was handed 120 days of detention but this was suspended for six months.