A Birmingham criminal lawyer allegedly helped illegal Jamaican immigrants obtain fake British passports by using stolen identities including those of a paraplegic man and dead children, a court has heard.
Lennox Manifold, 47, counter-signed 16 passport applications for Jamaicans, including convicted drug dealers deported from the UK, Bristol Crown court was told.
Manifold, formerly of Maidments Solicitors and latterly of Manifold and Naser solicitors, both in Birmingham, denies 16 counts of conspiracy to obtain property by deception.
His co-accused, Andrew Morrisson, 31, from Handsworth, Birmingham, Christopher Whittaker, 35, of no fixed abode, and Alfreco Jones, 31, from Telford, Shropshire, face the same charges.
It is alleged the co-defendants applied for passports with Manifold’s help.
Opening the trial, prosecutor Timothy Mousley told the jury the fake applications were made between January 2001 and September 2006 and exclusively involved Jamaicans.
Mr Mousley said: “They were hoping to obtain a fake identity so they could remain in this country. Many have a history with immigration authorities. Some had been deported previously, but managed to get back to the UK.”
Mr Mousley said Morrisson made two applications, Whittaker made two, and Jones made one.
Manifold was involved with four of his co-defendants’ applications and 12 others, Mr Mousley said.
He went on: “Why was he involved with so many? He is a solicitor. A person of good standing in the community. He was the one who countersigned the form and endorsed the photos.”
Mr Mousley took the jury through some of the applications, which were counter-signed by Manifold.
The first count involved an application made in March 2001 in the name of Colin Ray Briscoe, from Birmingham. A photograph of a black man, endorsed by Manifold, accompanied the application, but staff at the passport office in Peterborough discovered two previous applications in the same name and raised their suspicions with police. Officers eventually tracked down Mr Briscoe in 2007 and found a white paraplegic man, confined to a wheelchair, and in “such a mental state” he could not provide a statement.
An officer coincidentally recognised the man in the photograph from the “wanted” section of the Police Gazette – he was convicted drug dealer Patrick Campbell, a Jamaican national.
Campbell was sentenced to four years in prison at Snaresbrook Crown Court in 2004 for supplying class-A drugs and was deported back to Jamaica in 2007.
The case continues.