Vijayan Mathan Gopal, a 39-year-old Indian national was found guilty of three molestation charges on Monday (5 Aug), after he molested a Scoot stewardess by touching her buttock, placing his hand on her right thigh and cupping her face with his hands.
Vijayan, a Singapore permanent resident, committed these offences on board an early morning flight from Cochin, India to Singapore on 2 Nov 2017, between 4am and 8.14am. The court heard that Vijayan reeked of alcohol and entered the flight with his fly unzipped.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim noted that commercial air travel involves passengers “packed into a confined space…for a period of time” with “no ready means of escape and immediate assistance from law enforcement is practically impossible.”
She added: “This was the very predicament the victim, an air stewardess, found herself (in) when she was molested by the accused while working.”
The court heard that Vijayan ordered food and red wine on the flight after take-off and had an argument with another crew member who asked him to pay before he was served the meal, as per the airline’s protocol. Vijayan refused to pay and argued with the staff.
The stewardess, who cannot be named due to a court-mandated gag order intended to protect her identity, stepped in and tried to defuse the situation.
The stewardess agreed to serve the meal to Vijayan before he paid for this. Despite this offer, Vijayan proceeded to demand the stewardess’ attention.
Even though the stewardess had to attend to another passenger who felt faint at the time, Vijayan repeatedly press the call light and insisted on talking to “that female steward” when another crew member tried to attend to him. DPP Lim said:
“According to the victim, the situation was ‘very urgent’ because there was a medical emergency that required her to page for medical assistance…and a drunk passenger that required her attention.
“After a nurse came forward to assist in the medical emergency, the victim attended to the accused. She knelt down to be at his eye level, placed her arm on the arm rest and told the accused firmly not to press the call light again.”
When the stewardess attended to Vijayan he suddenly asked her where she lived before telling her, “You are so beautiful.” Vijayan then cupped her face with both hands.
The court heard that the stewardess felt “angry, uncomfortable and very disgusted” but could not push Vijayan away since he was a passenger. When the stewardess leaned back, Vijayan told her: “Do not throw your anger at me…I’m the boss of the flight.”
The stewardess tried to stand up but Vijayan placed his hand on her right thigh “with strong force” and touched her buttock before she walked away.
The victim promptly informed the plane captain about the incident and requested him to alert the airport police. She subsequently submitted an incident report to Scoot.
Vijayan denied molesting the stewardess and claims that the victim fabricated the incident to suppress his complaint against another crew member about the “poor service” he received.
The accused is out on bail of S$5,000 and will return to court for sentencing on 28 Aug. He could be jailed for a maximum of two years, fined or caned for each count of molestation. -/TISG
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