A Royal Navy sailor forged GCSE certificates to make himself appear smarter and get promoted – but was caught off guard because he misspelled his own name.
Leading Seaman Ian O’Mahoney claimed he received B and C marks on his GCSE English exams while pushing for the master rank, but he actually got two D marks, which meant he was not eligible for promotion.
LS O’Mahoney, 33, forged two AQA Examination Board certificates and sent them to show he had the necessary requirements for his bluff.
But, the Royal Navy cook misspelled his own name like ‘O’Omhoney’. He was asked to request a new certificate with the correct spelling, but eyebrows were raised when the “correct” certificates were returned suspiciously faster than usual.
LS O’Mahoney later confessed to forging the certificates and admitting two counts of fraud at court martial.
At Bulford Military Court, Wilts, he received a suspended sentence.
Major James Eveleigh, prosecutor, said LS O’Mahoney had been recommended for promotion and needed to upload certificates to prove he was proficient in arithmetic and literacy.
LS O’Mahoney, who at the time served at HMS Nelson Naval Base in Portsmouth, Hants, uploaded documents in August 2020 claiming he had obtained a B and C in English from GCSE.
Maj Eveleigh said: âIt was noticed that the certificate had an error, his name was misspelled and instead of ‘O’Mahoney’ it was written ‘O’Omhoney’.
âAt this point there was no reason to believe the certificate was forged.
âLS O’Mahoney has been invited to contact AQA and request an updated or amended GCSE certificate. “
But when its new certificate was uploaded the following month, inspectors began to suspect that it was false because it had been “received much faster” than previous AQA requests.
During the investigation, the AQA confirmed that it had not received any request for a new certificate and that the notes did not correspond to what was in their files.
Although he initially claimed the certificates were provided by his sister, he admitted to military police in March 2021 that he falsified the documents and pleaded guilty to fraud in July.
Maj Eveleigh added, âThis is a minor example of a violation, but there are examples of repeated dishonesty.
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 for have done it. âOf course, there was a better way to make sure he was eligible for a promotion.
Mr Rynn said that at the age of 16, the time he was due to do his GCSEs, LS O’Mahoney was “very seriously” assaulted and suffered a serious head injury. He said it impacted his schooling and he “didn’t thrive in GCSE”.
Deputy Judge Advocate General Alistair McGrigor, on sentencing, said: âYou have broken the trust which is an essential part of members of the armed forces.
âPretending is unfair to those who legitimately get their qualificationsâ¦ they degrade theirs.
âThey leave the document forger potentially vulnerable to blackmail. âIf you had been successful in getting a promotion, you would almost certainly be fired.
hWe accept that your acts of deception did not go beyond the first verification of the authenticity of the certificate
LS O’Mahoney, who is currently the head of the catering service aboard the mine countermeasures vessel HMS Brocklesby, was sentenced to 120 days in detention, but this was suspended for six months.