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Indian 'holy man' Charanjit guilty of raping schoolgirl

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Indian Holy Man Charanjit who was convicted at Belfast Crown Court of raping a girl.

Indian Holy Man Charanjit who was convicted at Belfast Crown Court of raping a girl.

Indian Holy Man Charanjit who was convicted at Belfast Crown Court of raping a girl.

An Indian 'holy man' from Newtownabbey has been convicted of raping a schoolgirl who was brought to him with a stomach complaint.

Charanjit (46) - who is a member of the Punjab Armed Police in his native country - was visibly upset in the dock of Belfast Crown Court when the foreman of the jury delivered the eight guilty verdicts after deliberating for over five hours.

The majority verdicts were returned on all the charges that were brought against the 'healer', whose address was given as Twinburn Gardens in Newtownabbey.

The charges include two counts of rape, sexual assault of a child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

All the charges relate to a period spanning from September 30, 2012 to February 1, 2013.

The victim, who is now aged 14, told the jury that she was brought to Charanjit as he was known in the Indian community as a holy man or healer. She said that the first time she visited him, Charanjit diagnosed her as having a stone in her stomach.

They then went into a bedroom and after she was ordered to lock the door and turn off the light, Charanjit told her to lie on the bed and pull down her trousers - then he raped her.

While the assault was taking place, she said Charanjit "muttered to himself", chanting "Lord help her" and "stone come out." She said Charanjit also felt her stomach and told her the stone had moved a bit.

The jury heard the girl reveal that afterwards, Charanjit told her not to tell her parents what had occurred, but to say he had felt her stomach. She questioned whether this was wrong, but said that as a respected holy man, she trusted him.

The girl said she returned to see Charanjit a couple of weeks later, when he told her that she had two options - she could undergo a painful operation to remove the stone or he could remove it for her.

She said Charanjit "did the same thing again ... everything the same" and that on this second occasion, he told the girl to tell her family that she had passed the stone.

The youngster also said that after these two incidents, Charanjit called at her home to see how smart she was and how she was getting on. She said Charanjit lifted her up her clothing, touched her chest and told her she was doing well at school. Again, she said Charanjit told her not to tell anyone.

When Charanjit was questioned by police, he denied anything inappropriate had happened and claimed that he had prayed over a glass of water which was then given to the girl on one occasion.

Throughout the trial, the jury of eight woman and four men heard Charanjit consistently deny the claims. He said that when the allegations came to light, he returned to Belfast to clear his name.

However, his version of events were rejected by the jury, who found him guilty on all eight counts. Following the guilty verdicts, Judge David McFarland remanded Charanjit in custody.

Pre-sentence reports will now be prepared on Charanjit, who will be sentenced for the sexual offences next month.

Belfast Telegraph