Five men have been sentenced to a combined total of over 16 years in prison for a serious assault that took place at a place of worship in St Albans.
The attack occurred on 4 June 2020, when the men lured a 45-year-old victim to the Jamie Mosque on Hatfield Road by using baiting phone calls and social media messages, before carrying out the assault and subsequently lying to cover their tracks.
The men, Trustees of the Mosque were unanimously found guilty and convicted on 12 December 2022, following a seven-week trial at St Albans Crown Court.
All have been Sentenced listed below:
Mohammed Mortuza, aged 50 and of Alexander Road, London Colney, was sentenced to four years and 9 months imprisonment for grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and an additional 9 months for perverting the course of justice, which he had previously pleaded guilty to. Mortuza had lied to police about CCTV evidence, which had been removed before police could access it, and attempted to blame a fellow committee member for sending the luring text message.
Mohammed Anam, aged 49 and of Holyrood Crescent, St Albans, was sentenced to 4 and a half years imprisonment – three years for GBH with intent, a year for perverting the course of justice, and an additional 6 months for attempted intimidation towards the victim. Anam had removed the CCTV that would have captured the assault and then lied to the police, stating that the CCTV had been stolen. The CCTV was never recovered.
Ali Choudhury, aged 49 and of Wilshire Avenue, St Albans, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for GBH with intent.
Mohammed Choudhury, aged 67 and of Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans, was sentenced to three years imprisonment – two years for GBH with intent and 12 months for perverting the course of justice.
Faisal Ahmed, aged 31 and of Gorham Drive, St Albans, was found guilty of inflicting GBH and was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He must also undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to the victim.
In addition to the prison sentences, a five-year restraining order was imposed on all five men by the judge, as well as on the victim.
Detective Constable Robert Davies from the St Albans Local Crime Unit said: “This was a serious assault which left a man with three broken ribs and resulted in him being hospitalised for over two weeks. He has recovered from his physical injuries but remains traumatised by what happened. He was lured to the Jamie Mosque via a text message sent by Mortuza. The five convicted men then set upon him and then tried to cover up their crime.”
There have been ongoing disputes at the mosque over a number of years, with police regularly attending.
DC Davies said: “In June 2020, tensions escalated when these five men made a calculated decision to harm this man. They ganged up on him, physically forcing him into the mosque entrance away from public eyes, or so they thought, and violently and collectively beat him, hitting him with such force that they broke three of his ribs.”
Two independent witnesses saw the attack, contacted the police and subsequently gave evidence during the trial.
He said: “This has been a complex two-and-a-half year investigation by the St Albans Local Crime Unit, supported hugely by the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and Response Teams; we are pleased that these men have now been sentenced for their crimes.”
HHJ Michael Roques said: “Broken ribs are very serious indeed and I have sympathy with the ongoing effects caused by the serious injuries.
“Each of you were not only of previous good character but were each upstanding and well-respected members of the Bangladeshi, and the wider community. Not one of you has acknowledged your criminal behaviour. You have brought shame on yourself and your families.”
St Albans district Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Caro added: “We work closely with the community in St Albans to ensure the city is safe for everyone to live, work and worship in peace and safety. We will not tolerate violence or those who seek to hinder justice.
“The actions of these men were shocking and we would like to thank the wider mosque community for their support and cooperation throughout this investigation. We continue to work closely with them and I hope these convictions and sentences bring a sense of closure and peace to the Jamie Mosque community.”