Imam guilty of rape

A Muslim cleric was today convicted of raping a young boy as he attended Islamic education lessons at his mosque.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, was also 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.

Prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor told the jury part of Khan's job was to lead prayers and give Islamic education lessons to boys at evening classes.

He told the court one of the boys claimed in police interviews that he was singled out by Khan after evening prayer on several occasions.

He was sexually assaulted in various areas of the mosque which were not covered by CCTV, Mr Shakoor told the court.

The other boy was assaulted when he was an overnight guest at Khan's house, the jury of six men and six women were told.

But in his evidence to the court 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.

Khan's lawyer, Robert Woodcock QC, asked him who had invited him to get involved in the family's business and he said it was mainly the mothers of the two boys who asked for his help.

Khan, who told the court he travelled to Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, India and Cyprus to complete his imam training, showed no emotion as the jury delivered its verdicts today.

A further five charges were dismissed by Mrs Justice Dobbs because the jury could not reach a decision.

She adjourned the trial for pre-sentence reports to a date yet to be fixed.

Detective Inspector Tim Martin, from Staffordshire Police, said officers welcomed the verdict.

He said: "Khan protested his innocence throughout the investigation, and during the court proceedings, but the jury did not believe his account of events and recognised he had abused his position of trust."