Irish police seek identity of man charged with using dead baby names on passports

The Irish flag flies atop the General Post Office in Dublin.
The Irish flag flies atop the General Post Office in Dublin. Copyright AP Photo
By Andrew Naughtie
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An elderly man is in custody facing multiple charges but still remains unidentified.


A man in Ireland who refuses to tell authorities his name has been criminally charged over a passport application made using the name of a baby who died in the 1950s.

The mysterious man, whom police say is elderly and speaks with an American accent, has been in custody since last month, when he was arrested at a passport office in Cork.

At the time of his arrest, he said he was applying for a new passport in order to leave the country. According to police, he had already held an Irish passport for 30 years but had only recently received a Personal Public Service Number, the individual identifier issued for the use of public services.

Police say he claimed he needed the new passport to leave the country – and that since being arrested, he has refused to co-operate with officers, hence their inability to establish who he is.

The chronology of the man's encounters with the law is still emerging, but a spokesperson for the Irish Courts Service confirmed that he is facing three charges of violating the Passports Act 2008 by knowingly or recklessly providing "information or documents which were false or misleading in a material respect" on three dates in 2022 and 2023 - as recently as September.

FILE: Irish passportCanva

Speaking in Cork District Court this week, Detective Padraig Hanley of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation explained that investigators are working with Interpol to try and ascertain the man's true identity – and said that based on their inquiries, they are certain he is neither Philip Morris or Geoffrey Warbrook, the two names he is known to have used.

"Both of those two people died," he told the court. "We have interviewed siblings of both of those people who died in 1952 and 1953. They died within months of their birth.

"There are two passports, one of which has been renewed. Numerous international enquiries regarding fingerprints and photos have been made. I have gone down every avenue we could go down."

The man remains in custody, and will appear in court again on 10 October.

Day of the Jackal passport fraud

The practice of criminals obtaining passports by using birth certificates of dead babies was brought to public attention by the novelist Frederick Forsyth in his 1971 thriller 'The Day of the Jackal'. 

The hitman in the book scours church yards to find the grave of a baby boy who would have been the same age as the assassin if he had not died. 

Taking the details to the UK's Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths, the Jackal pays for a legal copy of the dead baby's birth certificate and then uses it to apply for a passport. 

Since the book was first published, and with increased digitisation and tighter security, authorities have worked to plug such a loophole. However there are routinely examples which find their way to court of the practice still going on. 

In 2004 another Irishman allegedly used more than 80 birth certificates from children who died to apply for 42 UK passports which he intended to sell on the black market. 

In the past, the Russian KGB and IRA terrorists are said to have used the 'Jackal' ploy to obtain legitimate British passports to operate undercover.

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