MORE than 1,200 worshippers would pray behind him and follow his sermons.
But today former Imam Aminur Rahman is starting a 29-month prison sentence for a £26,900 loan fraud betrayal that shocked the Muslim community.
Following a two-and-a-half-week trial the 30-year-old former religious leader of the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea, was found guilty of 20 frauds by keeping 20 loans he asked for.
Former mosque president and victim Abdul Jalil said: ‘We all feel that Mr Rahman was our trusted Imam and we have been cheated and let down by him.’
He added: ‘Some of them are very angry as they gave him their savings.’
It was only when Rahman was confronted by brothers Iraque and Iqbal Miah that the full extent of the frauds, committed in 2012 and 2013, were found when he tried to hide a debt list.
You abused your high office for personal gain and when you were challenged by those you had exploited you arrogantly tried to fob them off with a series of liesJudge Ian Pearson
Sentencing, judge Ian Pearson said Rahman held a ‘unique position’ with ‘enormous influence’ and was supposed to live as ‘pure’ a life as possible.
The judge said: ‘You abused your high office for personal gain and when you were challenged by those you had exploited you arrogantly tried to fob them off with a series of lies.
‘You also lied repeatedly to the jury but the jury saw through those lies and convicted you of all offences.’
The court heard Rahman complained to police about his treatment when confronted by Mozib Khan and the Miah brothers, who were arrested. They were ultimately released without charge.
At Portsmouth Crown Court Iqbal Miah, who gave £5,000 to Rahman, said his reputation had been affected by the arrest and some still suspect him.
After Rahman was jailed, investigating officer DC Jackie Foley said: ‘It would not have been possible without the support of the victims coming together and making a stand.’
Timothy Shorter, defending, said Rahman had paid back £8,000 of the loans and still intends to pay the rest.
Rahman, of Lydgait, Haddington, Scotland, admitted a bail offence for not turning up to his original trial in September. He was given two months consecutive to 27 months for the fraud.