Accused of assuming another man’s identity

A 60-year-old has appeared in court accused of assuming the identity of another man to claim benefits.

Patrick Joseph McPhillips, of Riverview Apartments, John Street, faces four charges of purporting to be another person to cause loss to the Social Security Agency. The offences are alleged to have been committed between March 1997 and August 2012.

Derry Magistrates Court heard allegations that McPhillips assumed the identity of a Donegal man by paying £500 for personal documentation.

It is alleged the offences came to light when the Donegal man passed away. An investigating officer claimed McPhillips used the documents to claim over £10,000, he was also allegedly issued with medical cards and obtained 26 prescriptions under the assumed identity.

Opposing bail, the officer said police feared the 60-year-old would not turn up to court.

He revealed that McPhillips was granted police bail in August last year and ordered to sign bail three times a week. However, in November he stopped signing and numerous attempts were made to arrest him.

It is further alleged when police entered his address they saw a passport and items boxed up and officers believe he intended to leave the country.

Defence solicitor Keith Kyle told the court McPhillips has been at the same address and has no intention of leaving the jurisdiction.

He added that the boxes belong to the 60-year-old’s son, who is currently in custody.

District Judge Barney McElholm said he had “severe reservations” about the case and it was a “lot more serious than someone forgetting to sign off”.

However, he released the 60-year-old was released on his own bail of £5000, ordered to sign bail every day and be electronically tagged. He was also ordered to surrender his passport.