SINGAPORE — A Singapore permanent resident was convicted yesterday of three charges of molesting a flight attendant in November 2017 during a Scoot flight from Cochin, India to Singapore.
The 24-year-old victim, who was 22 at the time and the cabin crew-in-charge of the flight, testified in court that Vijayan Mathan Gopal was the last passenger to board the flight. He was reeking of alcohol and his pants were unzipped.
After arguing over the payment for food, Vijayan told the victim that he wanted to complain about her colleague. The victim and her fellow flight attendants cannot be named due to a court gag order to protect their identities.
Suddenly, Vijayan held the victim’s right hand and stroked her face while saying: “You are so beautiful.” He then cupped her face, put his hand on her thigh and touched her buttock — in full view of two others.
After being charged, Vijyan claimed trial to his offences and denied committing them. He also claimed that the victim and her colleague had fabricated the incident to prevent his complaint about the latter’s “poor service” from surfacing.
Yesterday, District Judge Salina Ishak found Vijayan — now 39 years old — guilty of the charges, as she accepted the victim’s evidence and rejected Vijayan’s defence.
Vijayan Mathan Gopal
The judge adjourned sentencing to August 28. Vijayan remains out on bail.
For each charge of using criminal force to outrage the victim’s modesty under the Penal Code, read with the Tokyo Convention Act, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of the three.
Under the Tokyo Convention Act, if a crime takes place on a Singapore-controlled aircraft flying outside of the country, the offender can be charged for the offence under Singapore laws.
When Vijayan boarded the plane on November 2, 2017, he appeared intoxicated but was able to walk to his seat, listen to the victim and give her his boarding pass, according to the victim’s testimony.
After the plane took off, the victim noticed Vijayan arguing with her colleague over his order of food and red wine. Vijayan did not want to pay even though the flight attendant had told him that it was Scoot’s policy to collect payment before preparing the food.
Realising that he wanted to lodge a complaint about her colleague, the victim agreed to serve Vijayan his food before payment, to diffuse the situation. She then told her colleague to do it and to apologise to him.
However, Vijayan refused to eat the food or drink the wine. The victim then got a male flight attendant to serve him, and assured Vijayan that she would talk to the first attendant who had served him.
After that, Vijayan pressed the call button several times to order more alcohol, but when the male flight attendant attended to him, Vijayan asked to speak to “that female steward.”
The attendant then told the victim that Vijayan was looking for her, and warned that he was slurring and appeared to be drunk.
The victim came, knelt down to his eye level and told him firmly not to press the call button again.
When Vijayan repeated his desire to complain about her colleague, she wrote down her own name, the other woman’s name and their staff numbers for him on an air sickness bag.
At that point, he suddenly asked her where she lived, then touched her face with both his hands.
Angered, she raised her voice, to which he replied: “Do not throw your anger at me” and “I’m the boss of the flight.”
As she tried to stand up, he continued holding on to her arm. He then put his hand on her right thigh, and when she finally managed to get up, she turned around and felt his palm on her buttock.
The lights were on at the time, and sunlight was coming in through the windows.
The victim then testified that she went straight to the galley, where a colleague confirmed that she saw what Vijayan had done.
A passenger who was sitting behind Vijayan corroborated this, and the victim asked her to write down her particulars and what she had observed.
The victim then reported the incident to her captain and got him to call the airport police. After the plane landed at about 8am, she submitted a report to Scoot.
In his defence, Vijayan submitted a portion of the air sickness bag with the stewardesses’ particulars, as well as images of the passenger feedback form that he purportedly took on his HTC Desire mobile phone.
However, when he was asked to produce the mobile phone in court, its screen was dead and it could not be ascertained whether the images were taken at the alleged time. —
Source: Malay Mail https://bit.ly/2ZFaYOY