Bungling prison service staff were left red-faced after a court hearing had to be adjourned when it was discovered the wrong man was about to be sentenced.
Not only that, but his name was different and he was 13 years younger than the man who should have been there.
Hassan Ahmed Hawsi, 39, was granted bail appear for sentencing after admitting being drunk on an aircraft at London Heathrow.
However a different prisoner was booked in to appear via videolink from HMP Isle of Wight at Isleworth Crown Court.
The mix-up was discovered minutes before the hearing as it emerged Hawsi was never informed of his sentencing date because his defence team were told he was in prison.
The man believed to be Hawsi was therefore booked to appear today, but the real Hawsi had not turned up to court.
It appeared the man in the Isle of Wight was at least 13 years younger than the real Hawsi and had a different name.
The sentencing hearing had to be adjourned because Hawsi’s defence counsel now need to inform him of the hearing.
Hawsi admitted to drunkenly abusing cabin crew on a flight from Heathrow to Dubai at Highbury Coroner Magistrates’ Court last week.
Magaret Aneucha, defending, said: “I’m not really sure where he is.
“The email I received from the prison service stated they have confirmed that Mr Hawsi is in the Isle of White.”
Judge Jonathan Ferris said: “This email says ‘the date of birth for this prisoner is November 16, 1992. This Mr Hawsi was born in 1979 so they have got the wrong person.
“‘Brilliant. Thank you, Jackie Wright’.”
It was not made clear who Jackie Wright was but it appeared to be the person who had emailed the court from the prison service.
Ruxana Nasser, prosecuting, said: “The defendant did appear in the Magistrates’ court in December, but he was given conditional bail of residence in this matter.
“Whether he’s in custody for another matter I don’t know. But he’s not meant to be for this.
“There’s no evidence that he may actually be in custody on other matters but he’s on bail for this matter and there’s no evidence he was remanded for another matter. The name and date of birth is of another person.
Judge Ferris said: “Why did anyone think he was in prison and that he needed a prison video link?”
The prosecutor said: “I don’t know where that information has come from.”
Judge Ferris responded: “It seems unlikely for anyone to invent.”
Reading from his computer screen, he said: “He was given conditional bail with residence. Looking at his conditions he’s committed to Isleworth for sentencing for being drunk on an aircraft.”
After a brief interlude in which a court clerk called the prison service to confirm that Hawsi was not in custody, the judge told counsel: “Ms Nasser, nothing we have discovered contradicts your understanding.
“He’s not in custody. He’s on bail. So will anyone have gone to tell him that it’s today?”
Hawsi’s barrister said: “My understanding is he’s not provided a telephone number to contact.”
Ordering the defence team to contact Hawsi immediately, Judge Ferris said: “He hasn’t been informed so this needs to be adjourned for another day unfortunately.”
The sentencing was adjourned until later this month.
By Adela Whittingham