A former cancer scientist, who raped two women on a train, told police officers he was ‘just flirting’ and not masturbating, as a court heard. 

Dr Prabhat Sakya, 50, of Swindon, Wiltshire, ‘trapped’ his victims by sitting next to them on the train before touching their legs, hips, stomach and breast, magistrates were told.

One of the victims said she saw a ‘bulge in his crotch area of his trousers’, which she believed to be an erection, and Sakya was ‘touching his trousers’ as he ‘stroked’ her, Swindon Magistrates’ Court was told.

Sakya, who used the position of Programme Manager at Imperial College London, said that he was not masturbating and was only flirting with the women when he was arrested.

Sakya claimed that he wasn’t guilty of the two counts of sexual assault, but was convicted on a trail and sentenced to 52 weeks imprisonment with a suspended term of 24 months. 

Dr Prabhat Sakya, 50, of Swindon, Wiltshire, sexually assaulted two women on a train before telling police officers that he was 'just flirting, not masturbating', a court has heard

Dr Prabhat Sakya (50), of Swindon in Wiltshire, sexually assaulted 2 women on a train. He then told police officers that he was just flirting, and not masturbating, according to a court.

Sakya approached the first victim while boarding the Great Western Railway service between London Paddington and Swindon.

Keith Ballinger, Crown Prosecutor, told the court that the woman “found it strange” because he had been seated next to another woman on the coach for a short while before.

Mr Ballinger continued: ‘He placed his right arm on the armrest and took out a magazine. His arm was extending over her shoulder, touching her left arm. 

She believes he was making an effort to touch her. She felt trapped in her chair and intimidated.

The victim checked to see whether the defendant was awake, but he was not. His eyes were open and he was looking towards her. 

Sakya, who is currently unemployed began to rub her thigh with his finger. The woman believed he was having an “erection”, according to the court.

Sakya 'trapped' his victims by sitting next to them on the train before 'stroking' their legs, hips, stomach and breast, Swindon Magistrates' Court (pictured) was told

Sakya ‘trapped’ his victims by sitting next to them on the train before ‘stroking’ their legs, hips, stomach and breast, Swindon Magistrates’ Court (pictured) was told

Mr Ballinger said that he had a bulge in the crotch of his pants which she thought was an erection. He was using his other arm to touch his trousers.

“She stated that she felt trapped, scared, and uncomfortable.” 

As the train arrived in Reading, he stroked her leg once more, before standing up and allowing her to board the train. She then told British Transport Police about it.

Just moments later, Sakya targeted a woman in a different coach, sitting down next to her even though most of the surrounding seats were vacant after many travellers alighted the service at Reading.

“She found it strange, as there was plenty space.” [on the coach]. The prosecutor stated that she was tired and didn’t think too much about it. She continued looking out the window.

He continued, “He rested his arm on an armrest and pressed his arm towards hers. He was looking at an Instagram video of a puppy and made a comment about how nice it was.

“He was looking over her shoulder at her cell phone, so she put it down as she felt uneasy.”

Sakya pressed his victim’s arm and elbow with his arm, actively applying force or pressure to her body before using his forearm to rub against her stomach and hip.

The victim froze in fear and was terrified, the court heard.

She watched staff move through the aisle, hoping they would notice her fear and help her. But they continued to walk by.

One of the victims said she saw a 'bulge' in the crotch of his trousers, and Sakya was 'touching his trousers' during the incident on the Great Western Railway train (stock image)

One victim claimed she saw a bulge in his pants crotch, and Sakya was allegedly ‘touching his pants’ during the incident aboard the Great Western Railway train. Stock image

The defendant then touched her knees and thighs before drawing patterns on her leg with his index finger.

Mr Ballinger said that she closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep, but he didn’t stop her.

“She opened her eyes and saw him staring at the ceiling a few seconds later.”

Sakya disguised the last part of his sexual attack when he got up to leave the train station at Swindon. He reached for her breasts and ran his hand from her knee to her chest as he made contact with her breasts.

Sakya did not know that Wiltshire Police officers were sent to Swindon station to help him locate him after his first victim reported the attack to police in Reading.

When he was taken into custody, he said to officers: “I wasn’t masturbating. I was just flirting.”

His victim, a 20-year-old woman, stated that she no longer feels safe riding trains after the ‘petrifying incident’. She also said that it still gives her nightmares.

She wrote, “I felt safe using trains up until this incident. I was frozen, trapped and unable move. It terrified me.

“It has been more than a whole year since the assault and I still have nightmares. I wake up feeling the same way I felt that day.

“I have lost my independence and feel unsafe traveling alone.”

His second victim, who was a pharmacist, stated that she has been unable to work with male clients as a result of the sexual assault.

The former cancer scientist, who used to work as a Programme Manager at Imperial College London (pictured), was sentenced to 52 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 24 months

The former cancer scientist, who used to work as a Programme Manager at Imperial College London (pictured), was sentenced to 52 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months

She said, “It is difficult to trust make patients.”

“I have been taking antidepressants since the incident but sometimes I struggle with what happened.”

Mark Glendenning, who was defending, stated that his client had ‘offered his apologies’ to both women.

He said that Sakya was in poor mental health at the moment and is currently receiving treatment.

He stated that although he poses a risk, the probation team believes those risks can still be managed in the local community.

Thursday’s sentence at Swindon Magistrates’ Court was for 52 weeks of imprisonment, suspended for 24 months. He must also register as a sexual offender for ten year.

He must also complete up to 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days, pay £620 costs and a victim surcharge of £149.

Dr Sakya currently is unemployed and receiving benefits. However, he worked as a Programme manager at the Imperial College London from 2018 to 2020.

He was previously employed at Cancer Research UK’s Cell Biophysics laboratory and at Unilever as a surfactant/colloid scientist.