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Senior flight steward found guilty of molesting stewardess on aircraft from S’pore to Manila

SINGAPORE — A 50-year-old man was convicted on Monday (Jan 17) of molesting his junior cabin crew colleague by slapping her buttock while they were working on a flight from Singapore to Manila in the Philippines.

A flight steward first said that he touched a stewardess' buttock because she was standing in a “provocative position”, then claimed that he tapped her to correct her posture.

A flight steward first said that he touched a stewardess' buttock because she was standing in a “provocative position”, then claimed that he tapped her to correct her posture.

  • A senior flight steward and a stewardess were working as cabin crew on a flight from Singapore to Manila and back
  • The stewardess had bent over to speak to a passenger when the offender slapped her buttock
  • He later apologised repeatedly and offered no defence for his action, claiming he had no intention to molest her
  • He will return to court for mitigation and sentencing in March

SINGAPORE — A 50-year-old man was convicted on Monday (Jan 17) of molesting his junior cabin crew colleague by slapping her buttock while they were working on a flight from Singapore to Manila in the Philippines.

The Singaporean steward, who was the highest-ranked cabin crew on board then, cannot be named due to a court order to protect the identity of the stewardess, now aged 27. She reported directly to him when the offence took place in 2019.

The name of the airline was similarly removed from court documents, which did not state if the man is still employed by the company.

The accused was found guilty of one charge of using criminal force intended to outrage the victim’s modesty, after claiming trial on the basis that he had no such intention.

Another charge of molesting another woman on an earlier separate flight from Singapore to the Netherlands on Nov 26, 2018 was stood down during the trial.

The incident he was convicted of took place on May 3, 2019, on board a Singapore-controlled plane. This was a flight from Singapore to Manila, then back to Singapore.

During the trial, the court heard that the accused had slapped the victim’s right buttock while she was talking to a passenger in business class where she was stationed.

When confronted with the victim’s allegation in the cockpit, he provided no defence for his actions. This is not the conduct of an innocent person.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang

The victim testified in court that while the passenger was showing her an item he wanted to buy from an in-flight magazine, she felt a “smack” on her buttock and she “jolted up”. She described it as so due to the “severity of the contact”, which was “hard and surprising”.

She then saw the accused walking past her. He stopped, turned to look at her and told her something along the lines of: “Don’t stand like this.”

She testified that he said this in a cheeky or playful manner, before continuing to walk away towards the front of the cabin.

She gave further evidence that she did not confront him immediately out of shock and because she was still attending to the passenger.

When the plane landed in Manila, she was preparing for the turnaround flight when the accused apologised to her, saying he had “no intention to do it”. She asked him what other intention he could have had but he kept repeating this.

He soon told her: “I’m sorry, I hit your (buttock)”.

She then sent WhatsApp text messages to her ward leader about what he had done.

On the flight back to Singapore, she also told the flight captain about the incident. He then called for a meeting in the cockpit with the three of them, the first officer and the chief steward, where the victim confronted the accused with the allegation.

He apologised and again said that it was not his intention, eventually admitting to hitting her buttock but providing no defence for it. He told her words to the effect of: “I swear on my mother’s name and (a religious text) that this is my first time.”

The flight captain then dismissed the pair, telling the victim that he would submit a report and advising her not to speak to the accused. Still, the accused tried to talk to her twice but she declined.

When they returned to Singapore, the victim lodged a police report.

The accused, who elected to testify in his defence, conceded that there was no situation where it was acceptable to intentionally touch a female colleague on the buttock.

He had first claimed that he touched her because she was standing in a “provocative position”, then claimed that he tapped her to correct her posture.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang called his defence “convoluted, illogical and both internally and externally inconsistent”.

He added: “Pertinently, this is a case where the offender has admitted guilt, in front of independent witnesses and tried to retract his admission in court.

“There is no reason why he would admit to something he did not do, when so much was at stake. When confronted with the victim’s allegation in the cockpit, he provided no defence for his actions. This is not the conduct of an innocent person.”

The accused will return to court on March 7 for mitigation and sentencing, and remains out on bail of S$5,000.

For molestation under the Penal Code, read with the Tokyo Convention Act, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of the three.

Under the Tokyo Convention Act, if a crime takes place on a Singapore-controlled aircraft flying outside of the country, the offender can be charged with the offence under Singapore laws.

Related topics

court crime molest steward airline flight flight attendant

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