The trial of a man accused of using his dead brother’s identity to fraudulently claim over €46,000 in pension payments has collapsed after one day of evidence.
Noel Ellis (aged 74), pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 48 counts of social welfare fraud carried out between June 2006 and July 2010.
The accused maintains he is James Ellis. The State claims he is, in fact, Noel Ellis, and that James Ellis is his late older brother.
When asked by the registrar as part of normal court procedure if he was Noel Ellis, Mr Ellis, with an address of Dolphin House, Rialto, Dublin replied: “No”.
After one day of evidence the prosecution told the court they were entering a nolle prosequi on all counts, meaning the accused is discharged from this indictment. The trial had been scheduled to last three days.
Patrick Ellis, a brother of the accused, gave evidence that he attended the funeral of his late brother James Ellis in London in 1997. Asked how many siblings he had, Patrick Ellis (aged 60) initially answered five, but later told the court that he was one of 12 children.
He identified his brother in the dock as Noel Ellis, whom he said went by the nickname “Nolo”. He said all 12 siblings had nicknames, and that his own was "Whacker" or "Paddywhacker".
The witness said he was a young child when his elder brothers Noel and James left home for the UK. He said that his brother Noel did not attend James’s funeral in London and didn’t turn up at “nine out of 10” family gatherings.
He said his family didn't have a particularly close relationship, but that he saw his elder brothers Noel and James a couple of times a year when they came home from the UK.
Patrick Ellis told Edel Gilligan BL, defending, that there was no chance that the accused could possibly be James Ellis.
Garda David Redmond told the court that a complaint was made to him locally in February 2010 that a man called Noel Ellis was claiming a pension under the name of James Ellis.
Noel Ellis was arrested and his house was searched. In his bedroom, gardaí found an original birth cert for Noel Ellis with the date of birth given as June 5, 1942.
They also seized a bus pass, social welfare pension receipts and a social welfare ID card in the name of James Ellis.
The court heard details of a 2006 pension application to the then Department of Social and Family Affairs in the name of a James Ellis. The application included a note, signed J Ellis, stating he was including a copy of his marriage certificate as he couldn't find his birth certificate.
The court heard that the accused was on disability allowance before he began claiming a pension, but had worked as a baker in London over 30 years earlier.