Leeds father took teenage son for ‘exorcism’

The father thought his 13-year-old son was under the influence of black magic, Leeds Crown Court heard.
The father thought his 13-year-old son was under the influence of black magic, Leeds Crown Court heard.

A FATHER from Leeds who took his teenage son for an ‘exorcism’ because he believed he was possessed by an evil spirit, a court heard.

Leeds Crown Court heard the father thought his 13-year-old son was under the influence of black magic and took him to see Wulleed Hussain, 36, of Winchester Street, Blackburn to perform an exorcism .

The court heard Hussain, of practises ‘Hijama’, which is where glasses are placed on the skin in a process known as wet and dry cupping.

A jury was told the cupping is done to expel a ‘Jinn’ - an evil spirit.

The boy was subjected to chanting at Hussain’s shop premises in Blackburn. He was placed on a hospital style bed and his back was cut using a small blade and blood taken using a cup.

The jury was told the belief was that the ‘healer’ - Hussain - could bring the evil spirit to the surface and bleed it out of the victim.

The court heard the boy’s father also subjected his son to child cruelty over a two-year period when he made him lick juice from the floor and eat pumpkin seeds from a bin.

He also took him to an attic or cellar and forced him into a position where his arms were put through his legs and he was made to hold his ears, before he was beaten.

The abuse would happen when the father believed the boy had misbehaved.

The father, who cannot be named to protect his son’s identity, admitted one charge of child cruelty and was convicted by jury of a second child cruelty charge.

Hussain was convicted by jury of one charge of assault in February 2015 in relation to the ‘exorcism’.

Judge Robin Mairs sentenced both the father and Hussain to 42 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

The father was ordered to complete a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement and to pay £1,000 court costs.

Hussain was ordered to pay £1,500 court costs.

Sohail Khan, for Hussain, said: “This was a misguided use of his power. I pray and aid his positive previous good character.”

Sentencing the father, Judge Mairs said: “I am not sentencing you for your beliefs, but there are important public policy reasons why the exorcism of children, attempted exorcism of children, is wrong.” He added: “I accept that this was a genuine but misguided belief on your part.”

Judge Mairs told the court: “Those who believe themselves to be possessed by evil spirits, whether they are or whether they are not, are vulnerable.

“Those who are told, especially by parents, that they are possessed by evil spirits are vulnerable. That vulnerability is magnified many times when that is a child.

“Part of the function of the law is to protect and safeguard the vulnerable and those in (the boy’s) position clearly were.

“Consent to an exorcism is a meaningless concept because those who perform or purport to perform exorcisms are in a position of power, often of standing and respect. It is practically impossible to withdraw consent in those circumstances, the danger being that those performing the exorcism believe it is the evil spirit – in this case the Jinn – that is speaking and not the person themselves.”

Judge Mairs said the physical harm to the boy in this case was “slight.” Sentencing Wulleed Hussain, Judge Mairs told him: “I accept that your religious beliefs are genuine...but I also find that you were tempted by the fee of £200.”

- Jury members had been told at the start of the trial that they were not being asked to come to any conclusion about the belief in evil spirits and exorcism of them within religion.

Prosecutor, Peter Hampton had told the jury: “Clearly, such beliefs exist widely within many religions. The Church of England through the Archbishop of Canterbury employs 44 exorcists, one for each diocese. Catholics and Muslims hold similar beliefs in evil. However, whatever the religion, such beliefs do not justify the assault as alleged in this case, the cutting of a vulnerable child’s back.”

The jury was told cupping is regarded by some - including celebrities Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow - as having physical and other therapeutic benefits.

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