A Macclesfield Express reporter scooped the nationals when he discovered how a student kicked off a flight, after passengers feared he was a suicide bomber, was facing jail for credit card cloning.
After seeing a photograph of Sohail Ashraf, sharp-eyed court reporter James Crisp thought he had seen the same man in the dock at Macclesfield Magistrates Court just a few days earlier. The defendant had been convicted of cloning credit cards while working at a petrol station.
Last month Sohail and a friend were removed from a flight from Malaga to Manchester after passengers feared they were acting suspiciously.
Then coincidentally, two days later, he appeared in court to plead guilty to the theft of £2,960 and was charged under the proceeds of crime act to the value of £6,000.
So James was baffled when he saw interviews with the student in the press and on TV denying any intent in the flight incident – and claiming his only previous criminal record was a minor conviction for fraud two years ago.
James was on his day off but called news editor, Betty Anderson, at sister paper the Wilmslow Express, to say he recognised the press photographs of Sohail.
He said: “I was sure it was him but was warned by the news editor that I would need to come up with some positive proof before we could run the story so I trawled through my notebook and the filing sytem.
“It came up trumps and ironically it was the details of the previous conviction he admitted in the tabloids which was the clincher as it had been fully read out in court and was in my shorthand note.
“He was giving interviews a full week later but somehow the latest conviction slipped his memory.”
Sohail will return to Macclesfield Magistrates Court for sentencing next week.