A TOURIST who sexually assaulted a woman on a flight from India to Manchester Airport has been jailed.

Hardeep Singh, an Indian national from the Hoshiarpur area of India was sentenced today Thursday, May 9 to a year in a British jail after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual assault at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

On Friday, February 23, a woman in her 20s was aboard a flight from India to Manchester.

The man in the seat to one side of her was Singh, who was visiting Britain on a six-month tourist visa.

Upon boarding the aircraft in Mumbai, Singh tried to engage the woman in conversation.

She tried to be polite but began to feel uncomfortable and could not understand him as he did not speak English clearly.

Whilst attempting to engage her in conversation during the flight Singh asked her whether the woman sat on the other side of her was her mother and - while she was watching a film – removed her headphones and tried to talk to her again.

When she got up to use the facilities, Singh refused to move aside so she could get to the aisle comfortably, forcing her to squeeze past him.

After the lights on the aircraft were turned down, due to the time of the flight, the woman and the other passengers around her went to sleep under their blankets.

The woman woke to find Singh sexually assaulting her. She tried to push him away but he persisted, forcing his hands underneath her clothing and underwear, rubbing his hands on her body, as well as trying to kiss her.

Everyone else around her on the aircraft was asleep.

She repeatedly told him to stop and tried to remove his hands.

She attempted to move away but 35-year-old Singh lifted her legs off the ground so she couldn’t get up.

She said that she felt isolated and vulnerable as everyone else was asleep and she couldn’t see any cabin crew around to help.

The assault lasted for around 15 minutes before the she was able to struggle free and move to the back of the plane where she reported Singh to a member of cabin crew.

He was moved away from the woman for the remainder of the flight and cabin crew contacted Greater Manchester Police, whose officers were waiting at Manchester Airport when the plane landed.

Singh was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and initially denied the offences.

Detective Constable Catherine Evans of GMP’s Airport Team, said: “From the outset of the flight, Singh’s behaviour 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.

“Thanks to the swift actions of our officers at Manchester Airport, justice was waiting for Singh as soon as he landed.

“We’re pleased with today’s sentence and hope the woman can move forward knowing that he’s 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.”

After he has served his sentence, Singh will be deported back to India.