Ex-flight school boss back in court

Ravindra Pal Singh
Ravindra Pal Singh

The former director of a grounded Palmerston North flying school will resume his appeal tomorrow against his convictions for assaulting students in mid-air.

Ravindra Pal Singh, 66, was found guilty of assaulting Illyas Valiyapeediyekal and Srishti Vijay, who studied at the Wings Flight Training Academy in Palmerston North.

He slapped Valiyapeediyekal across the face and shoved his head against the side of the cockpit during a flight in June 2011.

On seven flights between May and July 2011 he elbowed Vijay and, on occasions, held his hand over her head in a threatening manner.

He was found guilty after a judge-alone trial last year.

He was the director of Wings, a flying school that catered for Indian students, which closed in 2012.

Singh argued the allegations were made up by a group of failing students whose studies he was not going to extend, and appealed his conviction.

He initially began his appeal into his assault convictions in October last year, but it was brought to ground after he tried to introduce new evidence.

Throughout his first appeal hearing, Singh claimed police did not properly investigate the complaints and the people making them.

He also tried to introduce new evidence to raise doubts about the credibility of those whom he is convicted of assaulting.

Justice Simon France adjourned the appeal for Singh to work through legal issues. He advised Singh to get a lawyer to help him.

Singh told the Manawatu Standard yesterday he had engaged a lawyer who would likely be doing most of the talking at the appeal.

The appeal was supposed to be on points of law, but he still had issues with the police investigation.

He said he wished he could have brought up matters relating to complainants' credibility earlier, but had needed time to gather the evidence.

Singh has also admitted assaulting Vijay by strongly gripping her shoulder in early 2011, and is not appealing that conviction.

He was ordered to perform 250 hours' community work and pay both victims $1000 each when sentenced on the three charges.

Wings is no longer operating, after the school closed shortly after a damning report by the International Education Appeal Authority.

The school was investigated after 16 of the 26 students made complaints.

One student said he had been promised five-star student accommodation with Indian food. Instead, he was sent to a house owned by Singh and left to fend for himself.

The report was also critical of Singh's administrative skills.

Manawatu Standard