June 2022

Imam raped and sexually assaulted schoolgirl in mosque

A once respected imam raped a young girl in a mosque after luring her into a quiet area by asking her to accompany him to the library.

Khandaker Mohammed Rahman pushed the child into a washroom and attacked her but the girl – who was described as coming from a “devout Muslim family” – did not report the matter at the time.

Rahman went on to sexually assault the girl, who was aged under 13, on further occasions by touching her breasts and bum when she visited the mosque.

Swansea Crown Court heard the offences happened in a mosque in south Wales in 2005, but it was not until 2018 that the victim told her husband about what had happened and the matter was reported to the police. The defendant was subsequently arrested at Heathrow Airport.

Rahman had previously stood trial twice in 2020 but both those trials were abandoned due to illness, with the second trial in November of that year ending after a juror tested positive for Covid and the jury was discharged.

John Hipkin QC, prosecuting, told the court that in December 2020 the defendant suffered a heart attack and following that developed onset dementia.

He said subsequent examinations by doctors for both the defence and prosecution had found the 67-year-old defendant to be unfit to stand trial in the conventional sense, so the jury in Rahman’s third trial was therefore asked not to determine his guilty or innocence but to determine whether he did the acts alleged.

The jury heard evidence from Rahman’s victim in which she described how the imam had asked her to accompany him to the library of the mosque before pushing her into a washroom where she fell and banged her head.

She then described how the defendant got on top of her, and how she felt a “stabbing pain” between her legs as he moved up and down.

The woman described being “face to face” with her attacker, and his “very strong” smell of body odour. She said the incident only lasted a couple of minutes, and that she then pulled up her trousers and ran out of the mosque to her father who was waiting outside in a car.

She also said she had made excuses not to go back the mosque again – something which was a big step for a child from a “devout Muslim family” – but on the few occasions she did attend Rahman touched her breasts and bottom.

The woman said she felt guilty she had not reported the assaults sooner, and was concerned he may have done similar things to other females.

As the defendant, of Gwilym Street, Cwmdu, Swansea, was unable to give evidence and did not attend his trial, the jury heard details of his original police interview in which he described the allegations as “lies, lies lies”.

The jury also heard from a number of character witnesses who knew Rahman either professionally or through being former pupils of his. It was the defence case that the victim had wrongly identified her assailant.

After deliberating for two hours and five minutes the jury found that Rahman did the acts alleged, namely one count of rape of a child under 13, and two counts of sexual assault. Sentencing was adjourned to July 22.