A police superintendent who sexually assaulted a cleaner was jailed yesterday for six months after the Court of Appeal criticised a $5,000 fine as 'shocking and clearly inadequate'. Mr Justice Charles Ching branded Peter MacLennan's behaviour as 'cowardly and sordid' and said he was astonished at the paltry penalty imposed by Magistrate Timothy Jenkins. MacLennan, 47, an officer for 22 years, arrived at court yesterday morning hoping to clear his name on appeal. Instead, he found himself behind bars after the three judges not only upheld the conviction, but increased his sentence. MacLennan, who showed no emotion as he was led to the cells, has run up debts of $700,000 as a result of the case and stands to lose his job and his pension. In October last year, he was convicted of indecently assaulting a cleaner at the Tai Po police headquarters on April 11, 1994. The victim, 44, said the officer pushed her into the women's toilet where he fondled her, exposed himself, rubbed against her and tried to undo her jeans. Kevin Egan, for MacLennan, said his client had misinterpreted the woman's friendliness as an invitation to pursue a sexual liaison. But Mr Justice Ching said: 'It's absurd to think any of the defence evidence could have lead the defendant into the belief he had or would have her consent. 'This was an indecent assault accompanied by violence . . . perpetrated on a married Chinese woman. 'It was committed by an expatriate police superintendent of far higher education and status. 'It was a cowardly and sordid way to behave and should have attracted an immediate custodial sentence. 'The sentence imposed induces a state of shock and was clearly inadequate. We would have expected a sentence of no less than nine months.' But Mr Justice Ching, Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang and Mr Justice Gerald Nazareth took three months off because the prison term was imposed on review rather than after trial. MacLennan was also ordered to pay $5,000 costs. The sentence was welcomed by women's groups which had strongly criticised the original fine. Linda Wong Sau-yung of the Hong Kong Federation of Women said: 'It recognises this is a serious offence and sends a message to women that their complaints will be treated seriously by the courts.' Police colleagues of MacLennan refused to comment outside court.