AN ISLAMIC tutor who inappropriately touched a pupil during lessons has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Suleman Maknojioa, of Audley Range, Blackburn, was found guilty of five counts of sexual activity with a child after a week-long trial.

Preston Crown Court heard how the defendant, 40, rubbed the girl’s lower leg, and touched her upper leg on top of her clothing.

He also touched the youngster on her chest area underneath her headscarf which she wore for prayers.

Maknojioa had denied the allegations, saying he only ever touched the girl to show encouragement.

Passing sentence, Judge Michael Byrne said Maknojioa had breached his position of trust.

He told the defendant: “The parents trusted you and left you alone with their children.

“The girl was of a tender age, young, vulnerable and impressionable.

“Secondly, by far and away the most serious aggravating feature, is this conduct represented a most profound breach of trust. There can be no greater recognition of trust than that between a minister of religion and his pupils.

“You breached that trust deliberately and repeatedly over a period of something like eight-and-a-half months.”

The court was told by prosecutor David Traynor that the girl’s father had gone round to Maknojioa's house with a friend to confront him about the allegations after the victim’s brothers, who were also present in the lessons, were overheard discussing them by their mother.

Mr Traynor said the defendant admitted the accusations at the time but that he later claimed any touching was ‘justified and appropriate’.

A letter written to the court by the girl described how she had been left with feelings of ‘confusion’.

Judge Byrne sentenced Maknojioa to 40 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years.

He must comply with a supervision requirement for two years and a sexual offences prevention order for 10 years.

He will be on the sexual offences register for seven years.

Mr Traynor said: “If this man is left alone with young children, there is a risk of offences similar to these occurring in the future.”

Frida Hussain, defending, said her client was no longer working as a teacher and was now claiming benefits for the first time to look after his six children and wife, who speaks no English.

The defendant has also not been able to work because of serious ill health, the court was told.

Miss Hussain said: “This is a man who has not been teaching and he is going to be prohibited from teaching.”