BUKIT MERTAJAM: A former hairstylist was charged at the magistrate’s court here today with reckless driving and causing the death of a motorist on the Penang Bridge last month.

M.K. Vaitheswaran, 21, merely shook his head to indicate that he is not guilty when asked by magistrate Jamaliah Abd Manap to state his plea.

The charge was read to him twice, once in Malay and once in Tamil, before he finally claimed trial.

Vaitheswaran, who was wearing a black t-shirt and dark grey jeans, was charged with committing the offence at Km4 of the Penang Bridge (mainland-bound) at 3am on Jan 20.

He was charged under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 which carries a jail sentence of a minimum two years and a maximum 10 years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

He will also lose his driving license for a maximum of three years.

Vaitheswaran was expressionless throughout the proceeding.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yusaini Amir Abdul Karim asked the court to set bail at RM10,000, saying that the amount was appropriate for the offence.

Lawyer S. Parameswaran urged for bail to bet set at RM5,000, saying that it is merely to ensure the accused’s presence at court.

“My client has cooperated with the police throughout (the investigation).

“He had presented himself to police when needed, despite not being remanded.

“Also, he used to earn a little more than RM1,000 before this, while his father, an electrician, earns about RM2,500. (His) mother is a housewife,” he said, in justifying the lower bail request.

Jamaliah then set bail at RM7,000 in one surety and fixed March 18 for mention.

She also ordered that Vaitheswaran’s driving license be suspended until the end of the case.

“He is also required to report to the police once a month,” she added.

Vaitheswaran, who was driving a Toyota Vios, was involved in an accident with a Mazda CX-5 sports utility vehicle (SUV) driven by 20-year-old student Moey Yun Peng on the Penang Bridge.

The SUV plunged into the sea from the impact of a collision with Vaitheswaran’s vehicle.

Moey’s remains were found strapped to the driver’s seat after the vehicle was retrieved from the sea on the third day of the search and rescue (SAR) operation.

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A policeman escorts K Vaitheswaran (2nd-left) at the Bukit Mertajam Magistrate’s Court. - NSTP/DANIAL SAAD