While aboard a flight from Sydney to Singapore, an Australian man repeatedly harassed and molested a flight attendant he found attractive.
At the State Courts on Thursday (22 November), Paranjape Niranjan Jayant was jailed three weeks after pleading guilty to two counts of molest. One count of molesting the woman by touching her hand was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The 34-year-old works for a logistics company in his home country. The victim – a Singaporean in her 20s – is a stewardess with the Scoot budget airline. She cannot be named to protect her identity.
According to court documents, the offence took place aboard a flight in August while the victim was deployed to the aircraft’s business class section, where Paranjape was seated.
Sometime after meal service, Paranjape went to use the toilet at the front galley of the aircraft. As he exited the toilet, he spotted the victim working in the front galley. She was faced away from him at the time.
The woman suddenly felt a hand caressing her left hip and turned around to see Paranjape with his hand on her. Without removing his hand, Paranjape then asked the woman where she was from.
The woman replied that she was from Singapore while moving away from Paranjape. Paranjape then commented that the woman was beautiful before returning to his seat.
After the incident, Paranjape repeatedly asked for the woman’s phone number but she ignored him.
About an hour before the flight landed, he again visited the toilet and found the woman standing with her back towards him. He molested her again before asking for her phone number once more.
The woman informed her superior about the offence before telling Paranjape to stop touching her and return to his seat. Paranjape complied.
Two days later, the woman made a police report at a police post in Changi Airport Terminal 2.
Accused ‘really sorry’ for ‘stupid act’
Deputy Public Prosecutor James Chew pointed out that the offence had been made against a crew member and had taken place in an aircraft, which were aggravating factors. He sought three weeks’ jail for Paranjape.
In mitigation, Paranjape said that he was “really sorry” for his actions and that he had been away from work the three months while awaiting the conclusion of his court case in Singapore.
“I just keep thinking about how stupid I have been. I was shameful to myself, my wife, my in-laws and my family to do this stupid act,” he said.
“If I’m put in jail, it’s going to affect my career really bad,” said Paranjape, adding that the “emotionally draining” three months he has spent in Singapore was “more than enough” for him to learn his lesson.
He pleaded for leniency and said he would “prefer not to be jailed”. Paranjape also claimed that he was intoxicated during the flight and has since learnt that he cannot handle alcohol.
In reply, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said he was convinced that Paranjape was remorseful but that he could not ignore the aggravating factors of the case.
He added that the court had to send a clear deterrent signal and the message that molest on an aircraft would be “dealt with severely”.
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