Mosque teacher jailed for abusing young girls

A MOSQUE teacher who subjected two young girls to an ordeal of sex abuse at Koran lessons was jailed for seven years today.

Mahmood Qadri began preying on the children during the 1990s while supposedly helping the pupils learn the sacred book of Islam.

A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh was told that Qadri aged 60, still maintained he had been wrongly convicted of the child abuse charges.

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But temporary judge John Morris QC told him: "Because of the gravity of the crimes of which you were convicted a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal in your case."

He said: "Because you have been convicted of sexual offences I am concerned that the public, and in particular young children, are adequately protected from serious harm from you when you are eventually released."

The judge ordered that Qadri should be kept under supervision for a further two years and warned if he breached it he could be brought back to court.

He also ruled that first offender Qadri should be placed on the sex offenders' register for life.

Bearded, bespectacled Qadri had denied two charges of lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour committed at Polwarth Mosque, at Temple Park Crescent, in Edinburgh, but was earlier convicted of the offences by a jury.

He began molesting the first child in January 1995 and the abuse continued until September 1998 during which time he kissed and carried out sex acts on the girl.

The second girl was molested by Qadri at the mosque from January 1997 until September the following year.

The victims, now 19, told his trial that he abused them in a bedroom at the mosque during Koran lessons.

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One told the court that the abuse occurred every day she attended at the mosque.

She said it was only later that she first revealed what had occurred as she had previously been scared and thought "people would laugh" at her.

Qadri, from Manchester, had originally been due to appear in court in 2005 but had gone to Pakistan to carry out "relief work" following an earthquake. He was detained in May this year when authorities held him in Germany.

Defence counsel Sarah Livingstone said there had clearly been "a breach of trust".

She said Qadri accepted the decision of the court but added: "It is his position he had been wrongly convicted."

"He said he has no intention of ever teaching children again. That is not something that is going to happen because of the sex offenders' register and because of the organisation of the mosque," she said.

She asked the judge to consider Qadri as posing a low risk and to exercise as much leniency as he could.

Miss Livingstone said he did not keep the "best of health" and had a history of diabetes.

"He had carried out charity work in Pakistan and that symbolises his service to the community. He tells me throughout his life he has worked to help the poor in Pakistan," she said.