A morality teacher at a mosque was jailed for four months yesterday for savagely beating one of his 11-year-old pupils with a stick.
Mohammed Abdullah, 44, flew into a rage after finding a picture of a caveman in the boy’s exercise book on which someone had pencilled in a penis, magistrates were told.
Abdullah, who worked as a volunteer at the mosque, was found guilty of common assault last month at Peterborough magistrates’ court.
Sentencing him yesterday, Peter Marshall, the chairman of the bench, said: “Anybody working with children in a position of authority has a duty of care to those children. You abused the trust placed in you by the community and parents and there is no justification whatsoever for beating a child.
“Because of the seriousness of the offence, aggravated by a breach of trust and the use of a weapon on a child, we feel there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.”
Abdullah, a cleaner and father of four, had denied the charge.
The boy told the court that he had gone to the lavatory and on returning to the classroom had noticed all the other boys giggling over the addition to his drawing.
He said Abdullah grabbed him by the shirt and told two other pupils to get his stick, which was described as 3ft in length, about 2in in diameter and wrapped in sticky tape.
“He hit me on one of my arms, then he poked me in the chest with the stick and pushed me down. It was very hard – it winded me,” the boy told the court. “He told me: ‘I hit you for your own benefit. Take it like a man.’
“I fell backwards and on to the ground. He pulled me back up to my knees with my ears. He held me with one ear and hit the stick on my neck.
“I said: ‘Leave me alone, you’re hurting me.’ Then he hit me again. I thought he was going to kill me when he hit me that hard. I literally couldn’t breathe.”
The boy, whose father later took photographs of the bruising, claimed that Abdullah regularly beat children in the after-school classes.
During his trial, Abdullah said he taught children aged between eight and 12 “how to be clean, how to worship Allah, how to behave to parents – everything”. He said he had “restrained” the youngster with his hands when the boy tried to leave the classroom.
Abdullah admitted keeping a stick in the classroom but denied hitting the boy during the incident on April 6.
Fred Sago, defending, told the court that Abdullah’s actions were not premeditated. Urging the magistrates not to impose a custodial sentence, he said: “It was a one-off incident which would never happen again.”
Mr Sago handed in a petition from 38 parents on behalf of Abdullah, who had been teaching on a voluntary basis at the mosque in Peterborough for eight years.
Mr Sago lodged an appeal on his client’s behalf against both the conviction and sentence.
The boy’s father later called for a system of regulation for teachers at mosques and other religious institutions such as Sunday schools. He said: “A lot of this kind of thing is brushed under the carpet and it is not acceptable.”