Trial of mosque worker accused of sexually molesting two boys collapses
The trial of a mosque worker accused of sexually molesting two young boys collapsed yesterday because of difficulties interpreting the evidence.
Yasir Muhammed Hafiz, 31, of Daleside Walk, West Bowling, Bradford, had pleaded not guilty to nine charges of sexually assaulting a child under 13, and seven of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Judge Jonathan Rose, following discussions with the prosecution and defence barristers in the absence of the jury at Bradford Crown Court, yesterday discharged them because misinterpretations of the defendant's evidence had made the trial unfair.
Judge Rose told the jury: "This is a man of good character, facing very serious charges. If he was convicted the penalties would be substantial. I cannot take a risk with the reputation and liberty of a man if there is something not right about the evidence."
An interpreter had been translating the evidence to Mr Hafiz, and his evidence to the jury, in an uncommon dialect which the defendant used. But a member of the jury, who was familiar with the dialect, had raised concerns with the judge about the translation of the defendant's evidence.
Judge Rose said it was not a criticism of the interpreter, but there were significant difficulties with the dialect.
He told the jury: "I am not satisfied that what the defendant has been trying to convey to you in his evidence has accurately been conveyed."
Judge Rose added: "This is not the end of the case, and there is every prospect this trial will take place in the future when these matters have been resolved."
He gave the prosecution 21 days to indicate whether they would retry the matter and fixed a provisional new trial date for February next year.
The prosecution had claimed Mr Hafiz, a worker at the Madrassah Nur Qur'an mosque in Parkside Road, West Bowling, had sexually abused two boys, aged nine and 12, between January 1, 2014, and February 13 this year.
Prosecutor Michael Collins alleged the defendant had hugged and tickled the boys in a sexual manner, kissed one of them and put their hands on his private parts.
Mr Hafiz denied any sexual misconduct when interviewed by the police.
Giving evidence to the jury, he said an accusation that he had taken the nine-year-old's hand and tried to put it on his private parts was a lie. He also denied putting his hand under the boy's bottom, and said he had never tickled the older boy under his top, nipped him, or tried to put the boy's hand on his penis.