Commission refers the travel documents conviction of Sleman Shwaish to the Crown Court

29 Nov 2018 12:57 PM

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Sleman Shwaish to the Crown Court.

Mr Shwaish, who is a Syrian Kurd, arrived at Heathrow Airport on a flight from Turkey in December 2012. When he presented himself at Immigration Control he admitted that he did not have a passport and said he wished to claim asylum in the UK. Mr Shwaish was arrested.

Two days later, after receiving legal advice, he pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court to failing to produce an immigration document contrary to section 2(1) and (9) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004 (the 2004 Act).

Mr Shwaish’s asylum claim was based on the fact that he had refused to be conscripted into the Syrian army and as a result was considered a traitor and being sought by the authorities.

He was granted asylum with five years’ leave to remain in the UK in April 2013 and has since been granted Indefinite Leave To Remain by the Home Office.

Because he pleaded guilty in a magistrates’ court, Mr Shwaish had no right of appeal. He applied in to the CCRC for a review of his case in March 2017.

The CCRC is referring Mr Shwaish’s case for appeal because it believes there is a real possibility that his conviction will now be overturned in the Crown Court. The reasons for the referral are that Mr Shwaish had a statutory defence (under section 2(4)(c) of the 2004 Act) to the charge of failing to produce an immigration document that probably would have succeeded; and that the legal advice to plead guilty provided is likely to have deprived him of that defence.

Mr Shwaish was represented in his application to the CCRC by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, 10 Tyssen Street, London, E8 2FE.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk 

Notes for editors

  1. The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
  2. There are currently 12 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
  3. The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year.  Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
  4. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made.  New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
  5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
  6. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate and on Facebook.