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S'pore-based Indian jailed for molesting air stewardess


Singapore: A Singapore-based Indian man who molested an air stewardess on a flight from India to Singapore was sentenced to four months jail on Friday.

Vijayan Mathan Gopal, who is a Singapore permanent resident, was on the Scoot flight from Cochin, India, on November 2, 2017 when the incident took place. He has since lost his job, the Straits Times reported.

After a trial, District Judge Salina Ishak found Gopal guilty of three molestation charges in August. He was convicted of three counts of outraging the modesty of the 22-year-old air stewardess by holding her right arm and touching her face, cupping her face with his hands, placing his hand on her thigh and touching her buttock.

While sentencing Gopal on Friday, the judge said that air travel is "a high-pressure environment", with no ready means of escape for the molestation victim.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim had earlier said in her submissions that following take-off, Gopal had an argument with a crew member as he had refused to pay after ordering food and red wine.

The stewardess stepped in to defuse the situation and agreed to serve Gopal his order before he paid for it.

Despite this, the man continued to demand her attention by repeatedly pressing the call light. Then the stewardess "knelt down to be at the man's eye level, placed her arm on the arm rest and told the accused firmly not to press the call light again".

The court heard that Gopal then told the woman that she was "so beautiful" and molested her, according to the report.

During the trial, Gopal, who was represented by lawyers Ramesh Selvaraj and Nicholas Kam, denied molesting the woman. Instead, he claimed that she had fabricated the whole incident to suppress his complaint against her colleague about the "poor service" he had received.

The victim had earlier said that she did not know the man before he boarded the plane that day. He was the last one to board and smelled strongly of alcohol, and his pants were unzipped, she added.

The Indian man's lawyer Selvaraj said that his client intended to appeal against the conviction, and Gopal was then offered bail of 15,000 Singapore dollars.

For each count of molestation, Gopal could have been jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.

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