A rogue motorist who has made a career out of sitting driving theory tests for other people is back behind bars after getting up to his old tricks in Wigan again.
Swallaxadin Bashir, who has taken theory tests in Wigan and at centres up and down the country before, charging £500 a time, was jailed for 18 months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court for a new offence in the borough as well as Manchester.
It was heard that he often did it to help out drivers who are struggling with the English language, including those newly arrived from abroad.
And he was told that if he persists in this criminal activity, his prison terms will simply get longer and longer.
The 39-year-old gambling addict, who has been living in Coventry but whose wife and child are said to be in Manchester, had pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation at DVSA test centres in Manchester and Wigan’s Market Street.
Prosecutor Amy Jackson said: “Both offences are the same: taking a driving theory test for another and pretending to be that other person, on June 20 and July 1.”
She explained that people who apply to take the theory test have to turn up at a test centre with their provisional photo licence and answer security questions before sitting the test.
If there are any concerns, further questions are asked, and the matter is referred to DVSA investigators – with both of Bashir’s offences being looked into by investigator Paul Chinery.
The first took place at the driving theory test centre in Manchester where Bashir turned up on June 20 posing as a Mr Anezi.
But the staff were suspicious and looked closely at the licence, comparing it with the signature provided by Bashir – but before they could challenge him, he retrieved his belongings from the locker and left.
Then on July 1, Bashir turned up at the test centre in Wigan town centre posing as another learner, and signed in in that name.
“Staff were not particularly happy, but the signature was very close, and he answered all the security questions, so the test was taken and passed,” said Miss Jackson.
But the details were passed to Mr Chinery who, having had previous dealings with Bashir, recognised him when he checked the CCTV recording from the test centre.
And when Bashir was arrested, a number of documents were found at his home, including a list of names and dates which he admitted were the details of further tests he had been booked to take – for which he was to be paid £500 for each one he passed.
It has not been possible to establish how many other theory tests Bashir sat successfully, without being detected.
And Miss Jackson said: “While there is financial gain, the serious aspect is the danger posed by people who have not passed tests being enabled to be on the roads.”
She added that at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2014, for fraudulently taking a theory test in Wigan, Bashir had been given a six-month suspended prison sentence.
In July 2014, having gone on to commit similar 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.
Then in July last year Bashir was jailed for two years at Isleworth Crown Court for 13 identical frauds – and was on licence from that sentence at the time of his latest offences.
Kevin Saunders, defending, said: “By virtue of the offending, he is proficient at taking tests, and indeed Mr Bashir is not an unintelligent man. He is able to identify and show insight into his offending.”
He said Bashir had a gambling addiction, and following his release on licence he sought assistance from an organisation called GamCare, and has ‘self-excluded’ himself from gaming websites, casinos and betting shops.
Of the offences, Mr Saunders said: “He’s a one-trick pony.
“He required money for accommodation for him and his son, and this was all he knew. He needs to learn new skills.”
Arguing for a suspended sentence, he said Bashir needed to be ‘assisted back into normal living,’ as well as punished.
But jailing Bashir, Recorder Steven Evans told him: “Your occupation now for some years has been to seek out those people who have trouble with the English language to offer them your services to take the driving theory test for them.
“That undermines the entire system of driving tests.
“People who cannot pass the theory test because they cannot read signs in English are being enabled to be on the roads by you taking the theory tests for them.
Recorder Evans quoted from the pre-sentence report which said: “Mr Bashir’s actions demonstrate an engrained persistence.
“He has become specialised in identifying future clients from the internet.”
And he added: “Such cheating is committed with high fees being exchanged for your services. This behaviour was persistent, organised and professional.
“As you repeat this offending, the sentences will simply get longer and longer.”