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NHS chief pleads guilty to fraud after using names of U2 stars to con £700,000 from health board

Welshpool | Crime | Published:

An NHS manager has pleaded guilty to defrauding Powys Teaching Health Board out of more than £700,000 after using the names of U2 members to award contracts to his own construction firm.

Construction work at Welshpool Hospital is at the centre of the case

Mark Evill, aged 42, had initially denied three counts of transferring criminal property, fraud and perverting the course of justice, but changed his pleas on the second day of his trial.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court previously heard project manager Evill had set up a construction firm George Morgan Limited, named after his dog, to secretly award building contracts worth £707,946.24 to himself from the board.

Evill used money from the firm’s account to splash out on a Land Rover Defender, an Audi A4, a Husqvarna motorbike, holidays to Dubai, a Chanel women’s watch and properties in South Wales.

He wrote emails and invoices to himself and falsified quotes from real firms to hide his fraud from auditors.

Evill also created fictional employees Paul Hewson and David Evans, the real names of U2 band members Bono and The Edge, to make the company look legitimate.

Prosecutor Christopher Rees told the jury during the trial’s opening: “Expenditure from the George Morgan bank account showed Mark Evill was living high on the hog at the expense of the National Health Service.

“It is a mark of the blatant, brazen and provocative dishonesty of Mark Evill that he chose to use the names of members of U2 to further this fraud.”

Some of the construction work, which included Welshpool Hospital, the children’s wing of Brecon Memorial Hospital, and Bronllys Hospital, was later considered to have ‘major deficiencies’, with the total cost to the health board estimated to rise to £1,420,604.66 once remedial works have been completed.

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Co-defendant and fellow project manager Robert Howells, 65, also pleaded guilty to fraud after he was accused of endorsing the George Morgan Ltd bids for work despite knowing Evill was secretly its sole director. Bank records showed he was gifted a £10,000 Ford Focus and £1,000 from the firm’s account.

A third defendant, Michael Cope, 43, an NHS estate manager, will return to court on Monday charged with fraud after he also allegedly endorsed Evill’s firm and received a £500 cheque as a gift. Cope, from Garden City, Merthyr Tydfil, denies the charge.

Evill, from Earlswood Road, Shiren Newton near Chepstow, and Howells, from Sedbury, Chepstow, were released on bail ahead of their sentencing next month.

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