An Indian businessman from Qatar has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl during a flight to the UK and jailed for 20 weeks.
Suman Das, 46, was travelling from Doha to Manchester Airport with his wife in July when he touched an 18-year-old passenger between her legs.
The female was falling asleep in her seat but said she woke up to a ‘rubbing sensation’, Manchester magistrates heard.
The girl alerted a member of cabin crew and went crying to the back of the plane, The Telegraph reported. Police arrested Das at Manchester Airport when the plane landed.
Accused denied charges
Suman Das had denied the charges but was found guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ Court last week and was sentenced on Thursday.
He initially claimed he must have touched her 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.
In a statement, Das said later, “I may have touched accidentally — but I didn’t touch her intentionally.”
“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 told the hearing.
District Judge Sam Goozee said, “This is a sexual assault in circumstances that you took advantage of her. It was a brief but traumatic assault touching her incredibly intimately”.
Wife was sitting next to him
The court heard how Das’ wife, Sonia, was sitting next to him on the flight when the incident took place.
During the hearing Sonia, his wife of 23 years, said, “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.
Das and his wife were visiting the UK for holiday whilst the unnamed girl was returning to Britain after spending two months travelling in Thailand.
A pre-sentence report stated community service was not an option for Das, who grew up in India and is now based in Qatar, as he is not a UK resident, PTI reported.
According to Manchester Evening News, he will also have a post sentence supervision order for one year after his release, which means he must stay in the UK until that expires. Das was also ordered to pay a 115-pound victim surcharge.
- Published on: 29 October 2016 - Photo : Suman Das leaving Manchester Magistrates' Court