Stoke-on-Trent imam guilty of sexually abusing boys

image captionKhan "has destroyed our lives", the families of his young victims said

A Muslim cleric has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two boys at a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, had denied charges of rape, attempted rape and sexual activity with a child.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court found Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual activity with a child.

The offences took place at the mosque on Capper Street between July and October 2009.

Khan has been remanded into custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

Religious education

The jury could not reach verdicts on other charges against him and was discharged from doing so.

Nottingham Crown Court heard Khan led prayers and delivered religious education lessons to boys at evening classes at the mosque.

Prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor had 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 assaulted in areas of the mosque not covered by CCTV, Mr Shakoor said.

The other boy was assaulted when he was an overnight guest at Khan's house, the jury heard.

In his defence, Khan said he had a close relationship with the boys because he tried to help them with their unruly behaviour.

'Exploited trust'

His lawyer, Robert Woodcock QC, asked him who had invited him to get involved in the families' business and he said it was mainly the boys' mothers.

Don Knapper, district crown prosecutor, said it was a case of abuse of young boys by a man who they and their families trusted.

"Khan was in a position of trust and exploited the access he was afforded as their teacher to abuse the boys," he said,

After the verdict, Det Insp Tim Martin from Staffordshire Police said it had been a thorough inquiry, and he realised the case had been cause for some "understandable concern" in the community.

Speaking after the trial, the family of one of the boys said: "It's broken the whole family.

"We suffered a lot. We couldn't stop crying."

They said the boy isolated himself from his friends and family and even wanted to end his life.

They said Khan had destroyed all their lives.

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