Family man wrongly jailed after being accused of using a fake photo on Driving licence
Father-of-three spent four months in jail after being wrongly accused of having a fake photo on his driving licence
Officers thought Syed Mazoor’s licence must be forged because his picture was in colour
He was arrested despite producing other ID
Mr Mazoor was charged and locked up
Magistrates then repeatedly refused him bail
By Leon Watson
Last updated at 10:46 AM on 21st February 2012
A father-of-three was thrown in jail for an incredible four months after bungling police wrongly thought his provisional driving licence was fake.
Syed Manzoor was arrested by traffic police who said the document must be forged because his photo was in colour.
He was charged with fraud and refused bail because magistrates believed the asylum seeker could flee.
Innocent Syed Manzoor spent four months in Strangeways after being arrested and charged on suspicion of having a forged provisional licence – which then turned out to be real
Mr Manzoor, who had no previous convictions, was held at Strangeways in Manchester until the DVLA finally confirmed his licence was genuine.
The 51-year-old said: ‘It was terrifying in jail – there were fights all the time and banging and shouting. No one could believe what I was in there for.
‘I’m very angry. I’ve never been in trouble with the police before. When I first got to Strangeways I was shaking with fear.
‘I had to be moved from one cell because the other prisoner had mental health problems and was violent.
‘I thought that they would quickly find out they were wrong, but as time passed I stopped hoping I would be released. When I found out I could leave I said a special thank you to God.’
Mr Manzoor’s nightmare ordeal began on October 4 when police approached the Vauxhall Astrain which he was a passenger.
Mr Manzoor said he was terrified when he first entered HMP Strangeways Prison in Manchester
The driver had left the car double-parked against the flow of traffic in Oxford Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, while he went to a cash machine.
When the traffic officers asked for ID, Mr Manzoor, who is a Pakistan national seeking political asylum in Britain, produced his provisional licence.
Mr Manzoor has no previous convictions but was thought to be a flight risk because he is an asylum seeker, and so was repeatedly refused bail
One of the officers thought DVLA-issued licences did not have colour photos and so Mr Manzoor, of Rusholme, was arrested on suspicion of carrying a false ID document with intent – despite producing other ID including a National Insurance number, an NHS card and a bank card.
Even though photocard licences issued before 2007 do have colour pictures, Mr Manzoor was charged after interview and a night in the cells.
It is understood police contacted the DVLA but the Crown Prosecution Service made the decision to charge.
Mr Manzoor, a former merchant seaman, said he is considering legal action.
His solicitor Darren Langton, of Manchester firm Keith Dyson, said: ‘Mr Manzoor is the victim of a shocking chain of events.
‘It’s very rare that you have someone in custody over a provisional licence. There was never a case against him – simple checks should have prevented this massive waste of money.’
Divisional Crown prosecutor Mark Callaghan said: ‘A decision was made to charge the defendant with possession of a false identity document with improper intent on the evidence available at that time.’
He said the case was kept under review until the CPS received confirmation from the DVLA that the driving licence was genuine.
A DVLA spokesman said it was ‘urgently investigating’ the case, and that if errors had been made ‘immediate action’ would be taken to avoid a repeat.
Superintendent Serena Kennedy, of Greater Manchester Police, said: ‘As this matter involved GMP dealing with a number of key partners, we are reviewing the full circumstances leading up to this man’s arrest and charge.’