Sex abuse shopkeeper (67) went on the run to Pakistan for years

JAILED: Wazir Khan (s)
JAILED: Wazir Khan (s)

A BURNLEY shop boss who sexually attacked a teenager and then went on the run for four-and-a-half years is behind bars.

The town’s crown court was told how Wazir Khan (67) denied molesting the 17-year-old in the secluded yard behind the family-run discount shop and then fled to Pakistan after he was convicted by a jury and was facing sentence.

Khan, who went to live with his first wife, claimed he had been persuaded to leave the country by someone else and had had no means of contacting his relatives in England, but, the hearing was told, they did not report him missing.

The defendant, who still protests his innocence, returned to the UK in January, handed himself in and was remanded in custody.

Khan, now said to be in poor health with diabetes, kidney and heart problems, was convicted of sexual assault in 2006 and then failing to surrender. The defendant, of Hurtley Street, was jailed for 18 months. He had no previous convictions.

Sentencing him, Judge Beverly Lunt said he had taken advantage of the victim in the worst possible way. The judge said the girl had been “patently honest” when she gave evidence and the jury quite properly and quite rightly found him guilty.

Judge Lunt said she had granted Khan bail for a pre-sentence report, but he had then run away to avoid his punishment and had known exactly what he was doing.

She said the defendant’s claim he had had no way of contacting his family was unbelievable.

”None of your family reported you missing to the police. You have not been honest about that.

“You returned to this country at the beginning of this year when you were in poor health. I am asked to believe that’s not why you returned. Whatever the truth, you did find a solicitor and surrender yourself to the police. But four-and-a-half years is a long time to have deliberately evaded justice.”

Khan will be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. He was made subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order, to protect young girls and women. He is banned from working in any shop or retail establishment that would bring him into contact with the public.

Mr Anthony Longworth (prosecuting) said in December 2004, Khan asked a child to look after the shop, which he ran.

He went with the victim into the rear yard, put his hand down her jeans, inside her underwear and committed a sex act and she cried out. The victim, who had earlier been kissed and hugged by the defendant, pulled his hand away and he told her: “Don’t tell your mum or dad.”

Mr Longworth said the girl went home and immediately told her mother. Khan was arrested and denied touching her.

Miss Sara Dodd (defending) said he maintained he had not committed the offence. Khan was in very poor health and suffered diabetes, renal and heart problems and had had a fall in prison. His family was concerned he was not receiving the appropriate care within the prison establishment.

He had had no means of communicating with his family from Pakistan. It was only when someone from this area went to his village that he was able to contact his son, who immediately went to Pakistan and brought his father home. Khan’s family had not known where he was.

Miss Dodd said: “If all he was here for was health care or state benefits, he need not have surrendered, but he did.”

The barrister said the defendant came to the UK 47 years ago and had “not claimed a single penny piece” by way of benefits. She added: “He and his family know the court will have in mind an immediate custodial sentence.”