"From the outset of the flight, Singh's behaviour was despicable."
Indian man Hardeep Singh, aged 35, has been jailed for 12 months after he sexually assaulted a young woman during a flight to Manchester.
Singh was sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on Thursday, May 9, 2019.
It was heard that Indian national Singh had checked that the woman was on her own before invading her personal space.
He made unwanted physical contact, even though the passenger made it clear she did not want to engage in conversation.
The woman, in her 20s, was sitting next to Singh, originally from Hoshiarpur, India on the flight in early 2019.
The woman felt uncomfortable when Singh tried talking to her. He even removed her headphones while she was watching a film.
When the victim got up, Singh refused to move aside which forced her to squeeze past him.
As the plane’s lights were turned down, the woman and the passengers around her went to sleep. But the woman awoke to find Singh sexually assaulting her.
She tried to push him away but he forced his hands underneath her clothing and underwear, rubbing his hands on her body.
The woman repeatedly told Singh to stop and tried to remove his hands.
She also tried to move away but Singh “hooked” her legs off the ground so she couldn’t stand up.
The woman felt “isolated and vulnerable” during the 15-minute assault as everyone else was asleep. She was finally able to struggle free and move to the back of the plane where she reported Singh to a member of the cabin crew.
Detective Constable Catherine Evans, of Greater Manchester Police’s Airport Team, said:
“From the outset of the flight, Singh’s behaviour was despicable.
“Waiting until the woman and surrounding passengers were asleep, Singh subjected the woman to a prolonged sexual assault, forcibly restraining her when she tried to move away.
“Numbed with fear, it was only after she summoned the strength to overpower him that she was able to run away and raise the alarm.”
Officers were waiting for Singh at Manchester Airport when the plane landed and he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
Singh initially denied the offences but later pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault.
He will serve a 12-month sentence in the UK before being deported back to India.
After Singh was jailed, DC Evans stated that the sentence will encourage other victims to report sexual assaults.
“We’re pleased with today’s sentence and hope the woman can move forward knowing that he’s behind bars.”
“We hope the courage of this woman and this positive court result encourages other victims to come forward and report incidents of sexual assault to police.”