UK

Man ‘caressed woman’s thigh’ on Emirates flight from Dubai

A 35-year-old solicitor flying home from Dubai to Manchester to get married is accused of sexually assaulting a woman by caressing her thigh on an Emirates flight. 

Arjmand Ghafoor, 35, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault when the plane landed at Manchester airport.   

Ghafoor was sitting in the window seat when the woman noticed he was ‘quite agitated’, a trial has been told.

As she was trying to read her book, he ‘touched’ the outside of her leg, before grabbing her inner thigh, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Mr Ghafoor is then alleged to have said to the woman: ‘If you think my behaviour is inappropriate, please tell me.’

Arjmand Ghafoor, 35, of Cheapside in Birmingham, is accused of groping the woman sitting next to him on a flight from Dubai to Manchester in December 2018 

Earlier, jurors heard, she told him to ‘stop it’.

He previously told her that he was a solicitor who was working in Dubai and was returning to the UK to get married, it was said.

Mr Ghafoor, of Cheapside in Deritend, Birmingham, denies two offences of sexual assault.

Kathryn Johnson, prosecuting, said the alleged incident happened in December 2018 when the woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was on an Emirates flight to Manchester.

Ms Johnson said: ‘When they first boarded the plane the window seat was empty, Mr Ghafoor then approached and he said he had been allocated the window seat,’ she said.

‘He did offer to swap his seat, but the offer was declined as her partner preferred the aisle seat.

The alleged sexual assault took place on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Manchester in December 2018. Ghafoor was arrested for sexual assault on arrival in the UK

The alleged sexual assault took place on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Manchester in December 2018. Ghafoor was arrested for sexual assault on arrival in the UK 

‘It then became apparent to the woman that Mr Ghafoor appeared agitated during the flight and initially she thought he was a nervous flyer.

‘He appeared impatient for a drink, wanted to get up many times so he could go to the toilet and she thought he always seemed to be taking a long time in the toilet.’

The court heard Mr Ghafoor started a conversation with the woman as she tried to read her book.

Ms Johnson said: ‘At that point the cabin lights dimmed. She then felt Mr Ghafoor touch the outside of her thigh.

‘She thought that was an accident, but then felt Mr Ghafoor grab hold of the inside of her thigh with too much pressure for it to be an accidental touching.

‘She told him to stop and he responded by saying: ‘If you think my behaviour is inappropriate, please tell me’.

Ghafoor, a registered solicitor, was returning from Dubai (pictured) to Manchester to get married

Ghafoor, a registered solicitor, was returning from Dubai (pictured) to Manchester to get married 

‘She responded by saying: ‘I have just done that’.’

The woman’s partner, who was sitting next to her, was unaware what had happened as he was watching a film, the court was told.

After speaking to the cabin crew, she was moved to a different seat, jurors heard.

She said she didn’t want to tell her partner as she ‘didn’t know how he would react’, the court heard.

Ms Johnson said: ‘It is the prosecution case that they were deliberate and intentional touches.’

After the plane landed at Manchester Airport, Mr Ghafoor was arrested, jurors heard.

He denied touching the woman, that he had drunk, or that he was ‘agitated’, the court heard.

Mr Ghafoor said he had fallen asleep and that the seats next to him were empty when he woke up, the jury heard.

Giving evidence, the woman said: ‘He was agitated, quite hostile, very jumpy and he had his phone out. He didn’t seem right.

‘He went to the toilet for about twenty minutes and people were knocking on the door.

‘He returned to his seat and I felt so anxious I couldn’t read my book – I felt in such a state of anxiety that I couldn’t.’

She said that they had a short conversation before the ‘lights dimmed’ and she ‘felt him touching’ her.

The woman said: ‘At first I thought: ‘Does he know he is doing that?’.

‘Then I felt more pressure that was intentional and he was purposefully rubbing my upper thigh.

‘When I became aware I said to him ‘stop it’. It was like a rubbing caress. 

‘I was in shock and felt very emotionally overwhelmed and I felt very very vulnerable.

‘I didn’t tell my partner as I didn’t know how he would react – I didn’t want to cause a problem.’

The trial continues.


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