AN Indian businessman who molested a British girl during a seven hour flight to the UK while his wife was sat beside him was jailed for 20 weeks today.
Suman Das, 46, was arrested at Manchester Airport after the 18-year old victim claimed he touched her between her legs as she was dozing in her seat.
At the time of the assault at 30,000 feet aboard a Qatar Airways Boeing 787, Das’ wife Sonia was sat beside him unaware of her husband’s behaviour.
He initially claimed he must have touched the girl by accident while fidgeting in his seat and offered to apologise – but he later said he could not have carried out an assault as he was asleep.
At Manchester magistrates court Das, who has been staying with friends in Bolton since his arrest looked confused and muttered to himself as District Judge Sam Goozee told him: “This was a sexual assault in circumstances where you took advantage of the victim.
“She was travelling on her own, and it took place next to your own wife in what was a brief but traumatic assault where you touched her extremely intimately.
Police arrested the man at Manchester Airport when the plane landedhttp://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/sexual-assault-flight-qatar-airways-12089685 …
Holidaymaker jailed for sexually assaulting teenager on flight
Police arrested Suman Das at Manchester Airport t after the incident aboard the Qatar Airways flight from Doha
“This cause the victim extreme distress. No doubt you are having difficulty facing the consequences of what you did that night.
”But the consequences for her have affected her greatly. You are a man of good character, your references speak of that.
“This is a very serious offence and you have not demonstrated any remorse or faced up to your actions on that night.”
Das who born in India was self employed and had volunteered as an aid worker in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake which killed 9,000 people.
The incident occurred in July five hours into the flight from the Qatari city of Doha to Manchester.
Das and his wife were visiting the UK for a “holiday of a lifetime” while the unnamed girl was returning to Britain after spending two months travelling in Thailand.
The victim told the hearing: “He knew exactly what he was doing and he wasn’t sleeping. He was looking at me, I saw he was looking at me.
“He must have been looking at me to see if I was awake. He did move very quickly once he saw that I was awake.”
The girl alerted a member of cabin crew and went crying to the back of the plane. In a statement Das said later: “I may have touched accidentally – but I didn’t touch her intentionally.”
Prosecuting Holly Holden said: “In this case the victim has zero motivation to make a false claim. Her evidence has been consistent and credible throughout.
“This was an 18-year-old flying alone. She said that the defendant touched her between the legs over her clothing.
“One person sitting next to another may jostle someone with their elbow but to touch them between the legs without knowing is a deliberate action.
“He gave two versions of events and said he was very concerned that this could prevent him from getting a UK visa and would destroy his life.”
During the hearing Das’ wife of 23 years said she had ‘complete faith in her husband’ and added: “I have had no concern. Until today I have faith in my husband and still today I have total faith in my husband.”
She also told the court that Das told her following the flight that if he saw the girl and her mother he wanted to talk to them to apologise.
He denied the sexual assault but was convicted after a trial.
In mitigation Das’ lawyer Miss Ellie Akhgar said: “He has been self employed for a considerable number of years. He also volunteered for the earthquake in Nepal.
“He got a group of friends together to give aid and water and food to help people in the aftermath of the earthquake.
”Without him these projects have failed, as they have been unable to get the funding without him there. He is saddened to find himself in this position.
“Before this flight he considered himself to be a proud man. He could hold his head up high and enjoy his holiday of a lifetime.
”Boarding that flight has destroyed his life, it has destroyed his employment and his reputation and it has been discussed on a very public level.
“It should also be noted that it has contributed to the deterioration in his wife’s health. I assure you Mr Das will never forget this experience.
“He knows as he describes himself that he is marked for life. He is of previous good character.”
Following his release from jail, Das will be under supervision and will not be able to leave the UK for a year.
He was ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for seven years and given a a £115 ($AU190) victim surcharge.