THREE NHS managers took more than £700,000 of public money using fake names inspired by rock stars, Merthyr Crown Court heard today

The three are accused of paying bogus invoices for building work by Paul Hewson – the real name of U2 singer Bono – and to David Evans, guitarist The Edge from the Irish rock band.

Two of the defendants are from the Chepstow area.

Mark Evill, 47, of Earlswood Road, Shirenewton, and Robert Howells, 65, of Old Barn, Sedbury, allegedly used the musicians' names as cover to abuse their NHS managerial positions and line their pockets with £707,947.24 of health cash.

The court heard ringleader Evill splashed out his stolen NHS cash on holidays, property, watches and cars.

Evill allegedly setting up a company called George Morgan Limited, named after his dog, to pay the fake invoices from the Powys Teaching Health Board, where he was project manager.

Prosecutor Christopher Rees said he signed off payments to company staff in the "fictitious name of Paul Hewson a.k.a Bono of U2".

Mr Rees said: "This was the vehicle used by Evill for the fraud. It was a company set up for that purpose."

Jury members were also told of a fraudulent quote for building work at Brecon Hospital signed by "David Evans".

Mr Rees said: "This is the alias of the U2 guitarist known as The Edge."

Evill is accused of using letterheads of bona fide firms to provide the health board with fake quotes.

Howells, a project manager at the Powys Teaching Health Board, faces one charge of fraud.

Mr Rees said: "Howells played a vital role in facilitating the fraud and he allowed himself to be bribed to allow Evill to continue his actions."

Evill is alleged to have bought Howells a Ford Focus worth more than £10,000 for his part in the fraud.

Mr Rees added: "The car was clearly part of Howells' payment for Evill's fraudulent activity."

A third defendant, Michael Cope, 43, of Garden City, Merthyr Tydfil, was also allegedly bribed by Evill to comply with the fraud.

At his police interview, Evill denied fraudulent activity and claimed it was "common knowledge" that "George Morgan was his company".

Evill is alleged to have filled and sealed evidence bags filled with documents supporting his defence and then told police they'd been left behind at his house.

Mr Rees said: "Evill created and planted these evidence bags to bolster his defence at his trial."

A court heard much of the work carried out on the contracts awarded to George Morgan Ltd. was completed to a "very poor standard".

A chartered surveyor was drafted in by the health board to examine the work – he concluded that rectifying the work to standard would cost the NHS £1.4 million.

The trio deny fraud and face a four-week trial at Merthyr Crown Court.

Evill also denies perverting the course of justice and three counts of transferring criminal property.

The trial before Judge Peter Heywood continues.