An Indian-origin businessman has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a sleeping teen during a flight to the UK and jailed for 20 weeks.
Suman Das, from Qatar, had been arrested at Manchester Airport after the 18-year old woman claimed he touched her inappropriately during a flight from Doha to Manchester as she was dozing in her seat in July.
The 46-year-old had denied the charges but was found guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ Court last week and was sentenced on Thursday. In a statement, Das said later, “I may have touched accidentally — but I didn’t touch her intentionally.”
The woman had 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.”
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”.
“He did move very quickly once he saw that I was awake,” the woman said.
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.
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.
The court heard how Das’ wife, Sonia, was sitting next to him on the Qatar Airways when the incident took place, five hours into the flight.
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.”
The accused 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.
Das and his wife were visiting the UK for what was described as a “holiday of a lifetime” whilst the unnamed girl was returning to Britain after spending two months travelling in Thailand.
The girl alerted a member of cabin crew and went crying to the back of the plane.