For the first time at Isleworth Crown Court the confident and patronising façade adopted by the tall, suited Syed Naqvi, visibly cracked and he looked stunned in the dock as Judge Stephen Powles QC sent him down for nine months.
“The Crown accused you of being arrogant,” said the judge. “And that cap fits you well. Your attitude pervades the pre-sentence report as well.
“You found a way of manipulating Emirates Airlines. You pretended you were a director whose details you had, and got the services of a chauffeur driven car for three hours. Then you pretended you had a first class ticket and you were entitled to chauffeur car services. You secured a reservation on the plane which you did not pay for and which was not released until 40 minutes before the flight. And then you did the same again.
“Had you done this only once and admitted it straight away, you might have stayed out of prison,” continued the judge. “But you chose to challenge the evidence and come to this court and tell lies. There was evidence from one chauffeur that he had been to your house a number of times before. But I am only sentencing you on the matters before the court.”
Naqvi, 24 year-old graduate of Syon Park Gardens, Isleworth, was earlier found guilty by a jury of five charges of obtaining services both from Tristar Cars Ltd – used by the airline for their chauffeur service – and the airline itself.
He would telephone the limousine service or the airline, tell them he had a first class ticket to Dubai and order a car “to the last house in the road” – prosecutor Alison Barker told a trial.
Despite never paying for a ticket, “he even had the arrogance to complain when a Volvo rather than a Mercedes turned up,” said counsel. “He wanted a flashy car to impress the person he was picking up from the airport. This is a man who wants a flashy life”.
On one occasion he was driven to Gatwick Airport where car and chauffeur waited while he met a friend and was then driven back home – a round trip of four hours. His antics cost the airline more than £5,000.
“This young man is not on trial for being arrogant. He is on trial for systematic dishonesty, believing himself to be too clever to be caught, or that the company, Emirates Airlines, were too lofty to bother with an irritant such as he,” said counsel.
A ‘frequent flyer’ with Emirates, he was blacklisted in 2003. “They didn’t want him on their airline anymore,” she said. But it was when the company made the connection that the police were called in and Naqvi, who had used the names Paul Holland and Mohammed Syed, was arrested.
He had two previous convictions for deception and was subject to a community punishment order when he committed these offences, Ms Barker told the court.
His counsel, Lewis Petersen, said he now had a job with Reid Accountancy and intended to put these matters behind him. He hoped to train as a teacher, he added.
But Judge Powles may have put an end to that career. “I accept you have ability and intelligence and you are skilful and could be of great use to the community,” he said. “But you have chosen to use that ability in crime. There is not a hint of remorse and only one sentence is appropriate”.