An imam who sexually assaulted two girls in the 1980s has fled the UK for Bangladesh before being sentenced.
Hifiz Rahman, 58, absconded on Saturday after being found guilty the day before of assaulting the girls at Cradley Heath Mosque in Dudley, police said.
No warrant or remand was issued after his guilty verdict and police visited his home to ensure compliance with previous bail conditions.
“We are making urgent inquiries to try and arrange his return,” police said. The spokesman added that an All-Ports-Warning report was placed onto the police national computer advising that officers should be notified if he made any attempt to try and leave the country.
Rahman from Netherton, did not attend the end of his trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court after claiming he was too ill and did not hear the jury’s verdicts.
It emerged at the trial that he carried out “almost daily” assaults on one girl who feared not being believed if she told anyone.
The offences against one victim took place between April 1984 and August 1987, with the second charge he was convicted of from March 1984 to March 1988.
The girls who had gone to the mosque for religious studies had described to the jury how they were touched sexually by Rahman.
The 58-year-old had denied seven charges involving indecent assault at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
But at the end of his five day trial the jury reached unanimous guilty verdicts on five of the charges. The jury cleared Rahman on two other charges.
Judge Nicholas Cartwright said guidelines for the offences on which he was convicted meant an immediate custodial sentence.
The judge ruled Rahman should also be told as soon as possible he has to sign the Sex Offenders Register.
Peter Arnold, prosecuting, said they would also be taking steps to make Rahman the subject of a Sexual Harm Protection Order.
The victims who were aged under ten had told the court how they were sexually assaulted by the Imam – a man with seven children and ten grandchildren.
The one woman broke down as she explained how she found it hard to understand what was happening because she was only six years old at the time.