A man who sexually assaulted a young girl leaving her emotionally scarred has been jailed.

Saydur Rahman Shamim abused the eight-year-old between May 2016 and May 2017.

He committed a string of offences against her over the period of the year while working as an imam in a Southampton mosque.

Shamim, 36, was found guilty by a jury in August of two counts of sexual assault on a girl under 13 and one count of sexual assault by penetration of a child under 13.

The court heard how he abused his position of trust to commit the sexual offences.

In a victim impact statement read out in court by the victim’s father, the court heard how ‘the traumatic episodes have made her very vulnerable, very anxious and withdrawn.

The harrowing effects have stayed with her ‘for a very long time’.

He said: “Till this day, she struggles to even give me, her dad a hug, let alone another man.

“She’s only comfortable hugging her mother and sister. Some of these scars will remain with her for life.”

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Appearing for sentencing at Southampton Crown Court last week, Shamin was jailed for eight years and three months.

Shamim, of Waterloo Street in Weston-super-Mare, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

Police Constable Kimberly Duncan, from the Child Abuse Investigation Team, said: “Saydur Shamim committed a heinous act against a young girl, who herself had come to trust him, yet he took it upon himself to abuse that position of trust.

“The impacts of Shamim’s actions during that 12-month period have scarred the victim; those memories will likely live with her indefinitely and impact her in ways that are just imaginable for someone so young.

“I want to place on record the immense bravery of the victim in reporting the offences initially and for providing us relevant evidence which allowed us to secure a conviction against Saydur Shamim.

“He can now no longer cause the victim physical harm, albeit the mental scars will remain.

“Shamim is now behind bars for a significant period of time as a direct result of his abhorrent crimes."

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She added: “We want to show you that no matter the circumstances, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary are committed to supporting survivors of rape and serious sexual offences and we will do everything we can to identify offenders and put them in front of a court.

“If you’ve been a victim, please report rape or sexual assault as soon as possible.

“Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure, we’d sooner hear from you so that we can make sure you’re safe.”