'Despicable' Passenger Waited Until Plane Lights Were Turned Down Before Sexually Assaulting Woman Next to Him

Hardeep Singh
Hardeep Singh has been jailed for 12 months after admitted to sexually assaulting a female plane passenger. Greater Manchester Police

A "despicable" man who sexually assaulted a woman for around 15 minutes while he sat next to her on a plane has been jailed.

Indian national Hardeep Singh, 35, admitted to carrying out the prolonged attack against the woman during a flight from Mumbai, India, to Manchester, England, in February.

The victim described how she woke up during the fight to find Singh with his hands underneath her clothing and attempting to kiss her while the passengers around them were asleep.

The woman, who was pinned down by Singh's legs, eventually managed to break free after being "numbed with fear" and alerted the cabin crew, police said. Singh was arrested when the plane landed at Manchester Airport.

Prior to the sexual assault, Singh attempted to engage in conversation with the woman, including removing her headphones while she was trying to watch a movie so he could continue to talk to her.

When the woman got up to use the facilities, the 35-year-old refused to move aside for her so she could get to the aisle, forcing her to uncomfortably squeeze past him.

Singh later waited until the plane lights were turned off and the other passengers fell asleep before forcing his hands underneath the victim's clothing and groping her.

Singh has now been sentenced to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual assault at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. He will be deported back to India after serving his sentence.

He originally denied the charges, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Following his sentencing, Detective Constable Catherine Evans of Greater Manchester Police's Airport Team said in a statement: "From the outset of the flight, Singh's behavior was despicable.

"After checking the woman was unaccompanied, he began to invade her personal space, pestering her and making unwanted physical contact, despite the passenger making it clear she did not want to engage him in conversation.

"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."

Evans added that she hopes the victim can move on with her life knowing that her attacker is 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," she added.