25th Jun, 2022

Coventry fraudster who sits driving theory tests for others is back behind bars - after returning to old tricks

A COVENTRY man who has made a profession out of sitting driving theory tests for other people is back behind bars after going back to his old tricks within months of being released.

Swallaxadin Bashir turned up to sit a dozen theory tests for other people at centres throughout England and Wales over an 11-month period, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.

Bashir (42) of Cromwell Street, Coventry, was jailed for 28 months after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and possessing identity documents with intent to deceive.

Olivia Maginn, prosecuting for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, described him as ‘a professional impersonator’ of people who were due to take driving theory tests.

Between October 2018 and August last year Bashir had been identified turning up at a number of test centres throughout the country to take the tests in various names.

He entered his pleas on the basis that he had done so on 12 occasions – but none of them was successful, largely because staff realised he did not look like the person whose photograph appeared on the provisional licences he presented.

And when they questioned him, they were not taken in by his claim that he had changed his features since the picture on the licence had been taken.

To carry out further checks, he was asked to provide a signature – which again did not match that on the licence, and he struggled to remember the candidates’ dates of birth.

On one occasion a suspicious test centre employee phoned the number given on the test application form – and the phone was answered by someone who was not at the test centre.

When Bashir was arrested in August last year, he claimed: “I don’t do this any more.”

He denied being the person captured on a number of test centre CCTV images, but a search of his home revealed a variety of clothing which matched that being worn by the fake candidates.

Miss Maginn said Bashir had six previous convictions, and in 2017 had been jailed for 18 months for similar offences.

She suggested he had no other relevant convictions – but in fact at the 2017 hearing it was revealed he had a conviction at Liverpool Crown Court in 2014 for doing exactly the same thing, for which he was given a suspended sentence.

In July that year, having gone on to commit offences at test centres in London, he appeared at Wood Green Crown Court and was jailed for 12 months, consecutive to four months of the suspended sentence which he was also ordered to serve.

And in July 2016 he was jailed for two years at Isleworth Crown Court for 13 identical frauds.

He was on licence from that sentence at the time of the offences for which he was jailed in 2017 – and he would have again been on licence when he committed his latest offences.

David Murray, defending, conceded: “His previous convictions aggravate his position. He understands a custodial sentence is inevitable.”

He said Bashir was originally from Somalia, and after arriving in this country in 2002 he was given leave to stay – but that was appealed by the Immigration Authority.

There have since been various appeals, and as a result of the situation, he was not allowed to have his biometric residence card, which meant he was unable to get a job.

“He was persuaded by others that he could carry out this type of work,” said Mr Murray, who pointed out that none of his latest attempts had resulted in him successfully sitting tests – so he had not received any payments.”

Jailing Bashir, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You have repeatedly been presenting yourself at driving theory test centres falsely representing that you were a genuine candidate.

“What you were trying to do was take theory tests for other people so they would be able to pass the test without going through the difficulty of taking it.

“You did that on 12 occasions between October 2018 and August 2019. On none of those occasions were you allowed to sit the test, but it was a persistent course of behaviour.

“It is a very serious offence because it undermines the whole system of the regulation of driving if people are helped to get licences when they are not qualified to do so, and it impacts on the safety of other road-users.”

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