A Muslim prayer leader who was stabbed in the neck at a mosque has been left in fear of suffering another attack while worshipping, a court has been told.
Raafat Maglad, 70, was on his knees in prayer at the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park on February 20 when he was struck from behind by a single blow from 30-year-old Daniel Horton.
Horrified worshippers rushed to help father-of-three Mr Maglad and detained his attacker, London’s Southwark Crown Court has heard.
The sentencing of Horton, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article, has been adjourned to December 10 so the court can seek further psychiatric information. The court was told Horton wishes to be jailed.
Mr Maglad, the mosque’s muezzin who leads the call to prayer, needed hospital treatment for injuries which included a 0.6in (1.5cm) wound to his neck.
He returned to the mosque for Friday prayers less than 24 hours after the stabbing but now fears becoming the victim of another “unprovoked attack” during worship, prosecutor Benn Maguire said.
He told the court: “He (Mr Maglad) is less confident about standing in front of the prayer hall while the congregation is standing behind him as he is scared about being attacked.”
Mr Maglad suffered nerve damage, has trouble sleeping and his voice has been “adversely affected”, Mr Maguire said, adding that the victim worries about going out and still does not know why he was attacked.
“Mr Horton attacked a known individual to him without warning from behind while the victim was praying and on his knees, in a place of worship.
“He directed the knife to the victim’s neck. Fortunately the attack did not sever an artery in the neck. We could so easily be dealing with a more severe offence.”
Horton brought the kitchen knife to the mosque and has admitted to regularly carrying a blade for years, saying that it was for personal protection, Mr Maguire told the court.
The court also heard that Horton had previous convictions including assaulting an officer, affray, common assault which included shouting abuse at police officers, spitting at them and saying he had HIV, as well as possession of a knife.
Sam Blom-Cooper, defending, said the reasons for Horton – who he described as a white Muslim convert who had offered to memorise the Koran – becoming violent that day are not known.
The court was previously told that the victim and defendant were known to each other because Horton, who was homeless at the time, had been attending the mosque for a number of years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had described the attack as a “deeply saddening episode”, the court heard.
Mr Blom-Cooper also noted that Mr Maglad had said of his attacker: “I feel for him”, adding that was to the muezzin’s “great credit”.
“This was a deeply saddening incident and troubling, yes. The victim was affected. The community was affected but also Mr Horton was affected,” Mr Blom-Cooper added.
In adjourning the hearing, Judge Deborah Taylor said: “This is not a simple case, and one that I feel needs to take further care and needs to look further at the mental health route, even if the court does not take it.”