A Muslim cleric convicted of raping a young boy as he attended Islamic education lessons at his mosque was jailed for 16 years yesterday.
Mohammed Hanif Khan, 43, of Sheffield, was told he must spend at least eight years in jail after being found guilty by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of sexual activity with a child, as well as the two counts of rape.
The charges relate to two boys who attended the mosque in Capper Street, Stoke-on-Trent, where he was imam, in 2009.
Khan, who appeared in court wearing a black suit, blue shirt and yellow tie, was sentenced by Mrs Justice Dobbs following a three-week trial.
Mrs Justice Dobbs told Khan, who sat with his hands in his lap and his eyes cast downwards as she outlined her reasons for imposing the sentence, that he had blatantly abused the trust bestowed on him by the community as imam of the mosque.
In front of a public gallery packed on one side with Khan’s supporters and on the other with the victims’ family members, she said: “A more serious breach of trust can’t be imagined.
“You were the imam and not only were you the boys’ teacher you were the boys’ guide.
“You were taken into the hearts of the community and treated like a god. One of the boys described you as being so big you were like the Queen.”
For the two rape charges, she sentenced Khan to 16 years in prison, to serve a minimum of eight years before he could even apply to be freed, and to 12 months, to run concurrently, for sexual activity with a child.
She also told him he would be on the sex offenders’ register for life and was subject to a sex offenders’ protection order.
Mrs Justice Dobbs also referred to Khan’s employment prior to his post as imam at the Capper Street mosque, which was as the UK’s first full-time Islamic minister at Dovegate Prison, near Uttoxeter.
She said he had resigned from this post after allegations emerged that he sexually harassed three female members of staff.
This was not raised in front of the jury during the trial but was “significant” at sentencing, she said, because it served to show Khan was a serious risk to the public.
In evidence Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, said he had a close relationship with the youngsters because he tried to help them with their unruly behaviour. He said he would often be more lenient on the boys if they were late or did not turn up for classes at the mosque because he was aware they had issues at home.