Religious leader jailed for child sexual assault

Mohammed Haji Sadiq has been jailed for the sexual and indecent assault of children. Credit: South Wales Police

A religious leader who sexually assaulted young students over the course of a decade has been jailed.

Mohammed Haji Sadiq, 81, was convicted of eight counts of sexual assault and six of indecent assault on four victims under the age of 11. He had denied the charges.

The offending took place between 1996 and 2006 at Cardiff's Madina mosque, formerly on Woodville Road, and came to light after four of his victims gave statements to the police.

Today, the former Koran teacher was given a 13-year sentence at Cardiff Crown Court. He will spend half of that time on licence.

During his trial, Sadiq had been described by those who knew him as "pious" and "reserved".

But today Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told him: "Beneath that veneer, there was a dark, deviant side to you that this trial has exposed".

The judge added that Sadiq's actions were a "gross betrayal of trust".

Mike Jenkin, from the CPS, said: “These women have shown remarkable courage in coming forward to speak about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Mohammed Sadiq when they were young girls.

“Sadiq was a respected figure in the community with considerable influence and power, which makes the bravery of his victims all the more admirable.

“The evidence given by these women meant the prosecution was able to present a compelling case to the jury, resulting in the guilty verdicts.”

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Cronick of South Wales Police said: "Mohammed Sadiq abused his position of trust within the community he served.

“Last month’s verdict shows the magnitude of Sadiq’s offending and the devastating effect this has had on his victims.

“These four young women have shown immense courage in coming forward and telling us about the abuse they suffered and enduring the further anguish of a crown court trial.

“As a result of the verdict and today’s sentence, I believe there may be members of the community who may now feel confident enough to speak to the police or our support agencies.

“Anyone with any information concerning this matter, or who may have any other concerns, should call a dedicated NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 where specially trained staff will talk to you and offer support.

“Alternatively you can call South Wales Police on 101 quoting the reference: 1600442164."

The Muslim Council of Wales said: "We applaud the bravery and courage of the young women who now, as adults, pursued the case and pursued justice.

"Mr Sadiq was not an imam, but a volunteer teacher at the former Madina mosque. All mosques in Wales now have Child Protection Policies in place, and teachers and volunteers alike are all vetted and closely monitored."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “This was an appalling breach of trust and Sadiq has rightly received a significant prison sentence for these heinous offences. He abused his authority and the faith placed in him to carry out a succession of sexual assaults against vulnerable children.

“Clearly Sadiq’s actions have had a huge impact on his victims, both at the time and since, but it is thanks to their bravery that he has been brought to justice.

“It is absolutely right that people who suffered child sexual abuse know where to turn for support and feel confident that their voices will be heard, no matter how much time has passed since their ordeal.”