An Indian faith-healing ‘holy man’ who raped and abused a 12-year old girl “in a most vile fashion” was jailed on Tuesday for 13 years.
Sentencing had been adjourned last week when he was rushed to hospital complaining of chest pains.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland, sentencing the 46-year old healer, known as Charanjit, in his absence, said that the self-styled holy man could be deported back to his native India at any time.
The Crown Court judge said the Home Secretary’s executive decision could see Charanjit, who later underwent heart surgery at Craigavon Area Hospital, deported now, or at any time while serving his sentences, or on completion of the jail term.
Charanjit, who claims to be a member of the Punjabi Armed Police in his native India, had, said the judge, held himself out “as a holy man with apparent divine gifts” enabling him to “heal others through the medium of water”.
Judge McFarland said he then cruelly exploited his position to prey upon and manipulate the girl’s family to breach the trust they placed in him and abuse the girl for his own sexual gratification.
“You cruelly exploited the trust placed in you, both by the parents, particularly the mother, and by the child, when you abused the child in a most vile fashion.
“You did this literally under the nose of the mother who was present in the home and waiting expectant in the next room, expecting some form of cure, when in fact her 12-year old daughter was being raped by you.”
Judge McFarland said the actions of the ‘holy man’ fell into the most serious category as “it involved the sexual exploitation of a child and the use of religion to breach the trust placed in you”. These actions, the judge said, may have led the victim’s parents to question their own faith.
Last month, Charanjit, from Twinburn Gardens in Newtownabbey, was convicted of a total of eight charges involving four of sexual assault, and two each of rape, and causing, or inciting a child to engage in sex acts.
Defence QC John Orr, said Charanjit continues to protest his innocence. He also revealed that while awaiting sentence, his client “has been subject to violence from other prisoners”, cannot communicate, given the language barrier, and has been diagnosed with an adjustment order.
Mr Orr also spoke of his client’s “very substantial weight loss” since then, and asked Judge McFarland to make recommendations for deportation to India, which he said would be a “more humane means of serving his sentence”.