A former trustee of Brighton Mosque was given permission by a director to hire a locksmith to break into its office, a court heard.
Abdul Deghayes is on trial for two counts of burglary over the incident at the Dyke Road mosque on November 24 last year, when it’s also alleged he stole bank statements.
Another trustee, Asim Takriti, told Brighton Magistrates Court yesterday that he had been told many times to return the keys by fellow directors, but had failed to do so.
He said he had bought a replacement lock from Homebase on November 22 and changed the locks himself.
However, another director, Khaled Amar, had given Deghayes permission to hire a locksmith to get into the office. Amar was “sacked” as a director because of this just days later.
And Mr Takriti said that when he next tried to access the mosque’s bank account, he found he had been taken off the list of signatories.
He told the court Deghayes, 52, had been a trustee and director until 2017, when he was sacked. He had returned to the mosque in August 2019, attending for most of every day to pray.
He still had keys to every area of the mosque, including the safe in the office.
Mr Takriti said: “We did not want him to have keys from day one. He’s not part of the committee, he’s not part of the trustees, he’s a violent person within the mosque.
“We and the other trustees asked him many times to hand the keys over but he wouldn’t even listen.”
The trustees made the decision to change the lock. Two days later, while reviewing the CCTV remotely, he saw Deghayes coming out of the office and called police.
In cross examination, Deghayes defence counsel Tom Wainwright asked Mr Takriti about a meeting of the directors held on 30 November, the week after the incident.
The minutes of the meeting show that Mr Amar was asked if he had given Deghayes permission to break into the mosque’s office, and Mr Amar had said yes. He was then terminated as a director.
Mr Takriti also told the court about an incident in which Khaled Amar had allegedly assaulted him. He said: “He charged at me in the office and he said he was very upset about what happened to his fellow Libyan and would get 20,000 Libyans to sort me out.”
Police were called and Mr Amar was arrested, but no charges followed.
Mr Wainwright asked Mr Takriti if the row was all about a power struggle at the mosque.
Mr Takriti said no, but added: “I just wanted to make a change. That mosque had been hijacked for a long time.
“When [Deghayes] was running the mosque, nobody came to the mosque. He was maybe actively involved, but the truth is that nobody went there.
“It was like North Korea, nobody knows what’s going on inside.
“You said it was a power struggle. When I came to the mosque I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to fix the mosque because it was trashed.”
Deghayes, of Arundel Drive East, Saltdean, denies the charges. The trial resumes on Wednesday.
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