Ex-councillor jailed, fined for molesting bar waitress

Prem Anand Loganathan leaves the Magistrate’s Court in George Town, Penang with his lawyers E Gnasegaran and Audrey Wee.

GEORGE TOWN: A former aide to a Penang assemblyman was sentenced to three years’ jail and fined RM7,000 for molesting a 21-year-old part-time bar waitress at a nightclub on Beach Street here more than two years ago.

Prem Anand Loganathan, 52, who is also a former councillor, was granted a stay of execution by the Magistrate’s Court here pending appeal against the sentence at the High Court.

Magistrate Jamaliah Abd Manap granted Prem bail of RM30,000 with two sureties on condition that he reports to the nearest police station once a month.

Prem was accused of molesting the waitress, aged 21, under Section 354 of the Penal Code for assault or use of criminal force to a person with the intent to outrage the modesty of the person.

The popular Penang DAP grassroots leader and former aide to an assemblyman was accused of committing the offence at a car park of an entertainment outlet on Beach Street here at 11.30pm on July 6, 2017.

Prem was a Penang Island Municipal councillor from 2008 to 2013.

Earlier, before the sentence was meted out, the prosecution and defence locked horns for more than an hour during mitigation on such matters as bail and stay of execution.

Prem’s lawyer E Gnasegaran had pleaded for a probationary sentence of good behaviour and a fine instead of jail because of extenuating circumstances, as allowed in similar cases in the past.

He said the circumstances included how the woman was “comfortable enough” to hold Prem’s hands and follow him to the car park.

Gnasegaran said court testimony also showed there was no resistance to physical contact in the first place.

“She spoke about her family issues and other personal matters to Prem, which shows what the situation was in the first place. She followed him to the car on her own and held hands,” he said.

He also said the alleged victim had prejudiced herself by holding a press conference.

“Prem has been without a job for two years and has been cast out by society. He is a first-time offender and has lost everything. To send him to prison is against the public interest, give him a chance to live,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Shafiq Mohd Sazalli said the two-year trial had taken its toll on him and others in the case and asked the court for a heavier, deterrent sentence.

He said molesting someone was a serious offence and people would lose confidence in the system if there was no jail time meted out to offenders.

Shafiq said the alleged victim had also suffered from stress, adding that she had delayed her plans to study in Korea because of the trial.

He also urged the court not to grant Prem bail.

Later, when Jamaliah offered bail of RM30,000 with two sureties pending appeal, Shafiq asked for Prem’s passport to be surrendered to the court.

Gnasegaran responded by saying that the prosecutor could only make such an application before the court has given its decision, not after.

However, the magistrate ordered Prem’s passport to be surrendered.