Burnley sex attacker who fled to Spain now behind bars

JAILED: Mohammed Cheema, also known as Fakhar Zaman, was jailed for two years after admitting sexual assault (s)
JAILED: Mohammed Cheema, also known as Fakhar Zaman, was jailed for two years after admitting sexual assault (s)

AN illegal immigrant who carried out a sex attack on a young woman as she slept before going on the run for two years has been jailed.

Mohammed Shah Nawaz Cheema, who also went by the name of Fakhar Zaman (30), of no fixed abode, was sentenced to two years in prison for the assault, at Burnley Crown Court.

The woman woke to find the defendant performing sex acts on her at a house in Burnley in November 2009. She pushed him off and went to a friend’s house where she called police.

Cheema was arrested and interviewed on suspicion of rape but insisted sexual activity had been consensual. He was released on bail but fled the country, first to Pakistan and then to Barcelona, Spain.

The case was featured on BBC’s Crimewatch programme and Cheema called police from Spain where he was arrested in May this year.

He admitted causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent and was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Prosecutor Miss Jane Dagnall said the victim woke to find she was naked, the defendant was on top of her. She described the assault as “painful.”

The woman said after the attack she could not sleep and was on sleeping tablets because she kept replaying the incident in her mind. She suffered from anxiety and was unable to trust people, felt ashamed and was unable to tell her mother what had happened. She had also been forced to give up her career and was unable to get close to a current partner.

Miss Virginia Hayton (defending) said Cheema had been forced to flee Pakistan and come to the UK illegally in 2002 after witnessing a police shooting.

The defendant, who had no previous convictions and was said to be hardworking and well educated, will be deported on his release from prison.

Miss Hayton said: “He is unlikely to carry out any further offences. He has been spending his time in custody in a meaningful manner.”

Sentencing Cheema, Judge Edward Slinger said: “This was a real upset to her because as soon as she knew of it, she got away and it was immediately reported to the police.

“This young woman has had these matters hanging over her for almost three years, she has not been able to have any sense of closure.”

DC Sarah Tucker, from Burnley CID, added: “Cheema is a dangerous man who committed a very serious offence.

“It has been a very difficult time for the victim and her family and I would like to praise her courage. I hope she is now able to put the ordeal behind her and finally move on with her life.

“Crimes such as this are rare but we are determined to ensure that those responsible are captured and put before the courts.”