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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 12:28 GMT
Criticism for late rapist warning
Police have been criticised for not warning the public a convicted rapist has been on the run since April.

Nine months ago Mohammed Saleem Hussain, 37, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, was found guilty of rape despite failing to turn up to court.

The Victims of Crime Trust said on Sunday it hoped the force had good reasons for keeping quiet for so long.

West Midlands Police defended not alerting the public immediately saying other inquiries have to be carried out.

A sick note was produced for Hussain on the last day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court and he was convicted in his absence of raping a 27-year-old woman from Solihull.

'Still in Birmingham'

Police said they have carried out "exhaustive searches" but he has not been found and last week an appeal was put out to the public asking for help to trace him.

A picture of Hussain was also released by police.

Norman Brennan, from the Victims of Crime Trust, said: "Firstly, it is astounding that somebody can be convicted of such a serious crime as rape in their absence.

"This type of attack is every woman's worst nightmare.

"To reassure the British public, particularly rape victims, I truly hope that there are exceptionally good reasons why West Midlands Police did not release this man's details as soon as they had exhausted their initial search to find him."

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said extensive inquiries had been made to locate Hussain but refused to say whether there were specific operational reasons why an alert had not been put out earlier.

Police think Hussain, a married father-of-two, is still in the Birmingham area, where he has family.

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