News National ‘Palm reader’ assaulted women

‘Palm reader’ assaulted women

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A Victorian man who offered to read women’s palms on the train before indecently assaulting them told one of his victims to “have a nice life”, a court has heard.

Ajay Chopra, 41, of Bendigo, approached five young women who were travelling on the V/Line train between Melbourne and Bendigo over a three-month period, the Victorian County Court heard.

In each case, Chopra would strike up a conversation before offering to read their palm and then hold their hands tightly near his lap.

Prosecutor Neil Hutton said he held one of the victim’s hands against his penis.

“She could feel the man’s erect penis on the back of her hand,” Mr Hutton told the court on Monday.

“This activity happened for most of the trip to Bendigo, where he got off the train.

“He turned and said `have a nice life` as he did so.”

Chopra’s victims were aged 18 to 30. During one of the five incidents, from June to August 2011, he also touched a woman’s breast, upper thigh and crotch.

The court heard Chopra would persist despite his victims trying to pull their hands away, and he stopped in one case when a woman made a phone call.

Chopra has pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault and two counts of attempted indecent assault.

Defence lawyer Mark Hird said his client had entered an early plea of guilty.

“They are clearly quite serious offences … and it is conceded they were carried out in circumstances of coercion,” he said.

Mr Hird also tendered to the court character references which he said showed Chopra was a “gentle person and this is completely out of character for the person they knew”.

Judge Gerard Mullaly adjourned the pre-sentence hearing while Chopra’s suitability for a community corrections order is assessed.