A FORMER city restaurant owner’s harassment of several women was described as “atrocious” by his own solicitor, before he was given a community order.

Mohammed Haque, also known as Sam, had admitted to touching a woman on the waist and bottom, as well as plaguing her with unwanted calls and messages, amongst other similar offences involving other victims.

The 33-year-old had originally faced sexual assault charges for the former offences, but these were replaced with lesser harassment ones just before his trial in December.

The jury had already been sworn in and complainants arrived to give evidence on December 5 when the charges against the former Arishana and Pasha owner were altered.

It was decided the case could be resolved without the need for a trial and instead dealt with at magistrates on Thursday (January 17).

At yesterday’s sentencing hearing, other similar offences against Haque, involving three further women were also dealt with.

Sharon Bahia, prosecuting, described Haque’s offences as “pre-meditated” and – referring to the persistent phone calls late at night using screened numbers, “scary and disturbing” – using the words of one victim.

“Given that the complainants continually asked him to stop and he continued trying, I would say that his intention was to cause maximum fear,” she said of the unwanted phone calls.

On one occasion, Mrs Bahia said Haque got the mobile number of a victim when she had rung to make a booking at one of his restaurants, before calling her late at night.

The court heard he turned the conversation sexual and was breathing hard down the phone, leading to the woman hanging up.

He called her back and asked: “Do you often go before a man has finished?” Mrs Bahia said.

The prosecutor said Haque’s victims, one of which he’d followed down a street, had had to make “lifestyle changes” with some not able to go out alone and others scared to answer their phones.

Kevin Saunders, defending, referring to all of the charges, said: “This defendant recognises that his behaviour was atrocious.”

He went on to describe his client as a “nuisance” but said he was regretful of his actions towards these women.

“This defendant must be punished, there’s no shying away from that,” continued the solicitor, but pleaded with Deputy District Judge Adkinson to give Haque a community order rather than custody.

He said Haque had already “lost his livelihood” over the charges and been “vilified in the local media” and was now turning his life around.

The defendant, of Friesland Close, Worcester, was described as a man of “good character” prior to the age of 30, and, after a darker period, has now “turned back towards his family and faith.”

Mr Saunders said Haque had “underlying issues” including drink and drug abuse and a negative “unconscious” attitude towards women which led to the offending between 2012 and 2017.

Haque was given a community order until January 16, 2020 – ordering him to pay £600 court costs and undertake 250 hours of unpaid work, and 24 rehabilitation activity requirement days.