Indian man jailed in Singapore for molesting air hostess on flight in 2017: report
Singapore: An Indian national here was sentenced to four months of jail on Friday for molesting an air hostess on a flight from Kochi to Singapore in 2017, according to a media report.
Vijayan Mathan Gopal, a quality assurance engineer, was found guilty after a trial in which he was charged with three counts of outraging the modesty of the 22-year-old victim while on a Scoot flight on November 2, 2017, Channel News Asia reported.
The victim had testified during the trial that she had gone to Gopal to tell him firmly not to press the call light button for assistance again, after he did so repeatedly.
He stroked her face and said "you are so beautiful", before cupping her face with his hands, the report said.
This made her feel "angry, uncomfortable and very disgusted", but she could not push him away as he was a passenger, and instead leaned back and raised her voice, saying: "Sir, sir, sir."
He replied: "Do not throw your anger at me", and "I'm the boss of this flight".
The victim tried to stand up but Gopal continued grabbing her right arm. When she tried again, he put his hand on her right thigh with great force.
When she finally managed to get to her feet by grabbing the arm rest, she felt Gopal touched her by placing his palm on her left buttock.
She later reported the incident to the plane captain and submitted a report to the airport police, the report said.
District Judge Salina Ishak noted that the victim was the cabin crew member in charge of the flight, with 96 passengers packed into a confined space over several hours.
She had to supervise air stewardesses and stewards under her charge, and had to deal with a medical emergency, a dispute Gopal had with another stewardess, and multiple call light button requests from the accused during the flight.
The judge said that air travel is "a high-pressure environment", with no ready escape for a molest victim aboard an aircraft.
"The judge had taken into account the degree of sexual exploitation, the circumstances and the physical or psychological harm caused," the report said.
The judge said there had been "no intrusion into private parts" for all three charges, and that while the victim was shaken after the incident, there had been no evidence to show psychological harm.
Gopal, a permanent resident of Singapore, had claimed that the victim and her colleague had fabricated the allegations after his complaints of poor service.
The judge noted that he had cooperated with police investigations and attended all necessary court hearings.
The defence said Gopal would be appealing against the conviction, and there was a tussle between both sides over the bail amount, with the judge eventually increasing bail to SGD15,000 pending appeal.
Gopal following the charges has lost his job, and has no family members in Singapore, the court heard.
For each charge of molesting the victim, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these penalties, the report said.