British girl groped by man on plane as his wife sat next

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A  holidaymaker from Qatar is facing jail after he was convicted of molesting a teenage girl during a seven-hour flight to Britain – while his wife sat beside him.Suman Das, 46, was arrested at Manchester Airport after the 18-year-old victim claimed he touched her between her legs while she was dozing in her seat.She said she woke up to feel a “rubbing sensation” and fled to the back of the plane in tears. At the time of the assault Das’ wife Sonia was sat beside him unaware of her husband’s behaviour.He 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.At Manchester magistrates court Das, who has been staying with friends in Bolton since his arrest, was convicted of sexual assault after a trial. He denied the charge.The incident occurred in July five hours into the flight from Doha to Manchester. Das and his wife were visiting the UK for a “holiday of a lifetime”. The unnamed girl was returning to Britain after spending two months travelling in Thailand.The victim 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. He did move very quickly once he saw that I was awake.”The girl alerted a member of cabin crew and went crying to the back of the plane.In a statement Das said later: “I may have touched accidentally – but I didn’t touch her intentionally.”Prosecuting Holly Holden said: “In this case the victim has zero motivation to make a false claim. Her evidence has been consistent and credible throughout. This was an 18-year-old flying alone. She said that the defendant touched her between the legs over her clothing.”One person sitting next to another may jostle someone with their elbow but to touch them between the legs without knowing is a deliberate action. He gave two versions of events and said he was very concerned that this could prevent him from getting a UK visa and would destroy his life.”During the hearing Das’ wife of 23 years said she had “complete faith in her husband” and added: “I have had no concern. Until today I have faith in my husband and still today I have total faith in my husband.”She also told the court that Das told her following the flight that if he saw the girl and her mother he wanted to talk to them to apologise.Das’ lawyer Miss Ellie Akhgar said: “This man has no previous convictions, so why would he now decide to take the plunge into criminality and sexually assault a stranger on a plane, with his wife sat next to him. One person sitting next to another may jostle someone with their elbow but to touch them between the legs without knowing is a deliberate actionHolly Holdencenter_img “He is a family man and a visitor to this country and has been here for the last three months. These cases are always very difficult cases. They are difficult, emotive and very highly charged.”You have seen the victim to be emotional and you have seen the defendant also becoming very emotional. But the fact is that emotion can be manufactured. She feels a rubbing sensation, a light rubbing sensation and she feels an arm moving away from that very tight constricted area.”She doesn’t say: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ This is a young woman who had been travelling to Thailand for two months. She would have had to have some degree of confidence – enough to say something to Mr Das.”Being awoken by the ‘sensation’ of sexual assault does not mean a sexual assault took place. The whole time she says nothing. This was a very, very long flight and this man is being scrutinised for fidgeting.”The mother of the victim went to work the very same afternoon as her daughter told her of the attack. She was described as being very calm from hearing that her daughter had just been sexually assaulted.”It is easy for a man of his age and his culture to apologise – he wanted to calm the waves in a turbulent sea of confusion. He apologised because he wants to fix what it is he has done wrong. This is a case of a very serious misunderstanding. Very serious misunderstandings can happen.”Das was granted conditional bail pending sentence on October 27.last_img read more