Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry cat bin dump woman Mary Bale fined for cruelty

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Media captionLawyer David Murray: "She has received hate mail, abusive telephone messages and death threats"

A woman filmed dumping a cat in a wheelie bin has been fined £250 after admitting a cruelty offence.

The RSPCA charged Mary Bale after CCTV cameras showed her throwing four-year-old Lola into a bin outside her owners' home in Coventry.

Bale, 45, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a cat. A charge of not providing the cat with a suitable environment was dropped.

The judge said she had taken Bale's vilification into account.

'Gravely ill'

The CCTV footage showed Bale, a former bank worker, stroking Lola before picking her up by the scruff of her neck and dropping her into the bin.

District judge Caroline Goulborn said the potential for harm to the cat had been "substantial" but the reality was she had not been hurt.

"The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account," she said.

Coventry Magistrates Court also heard that Bale's elderly father had been gravely ill at the time and that he had since died.

"I accept you were in a stressful situation at the time, but that's no excuse for what you did," Judge Goulborn said.

Earlier, Nick Sutton, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Bale lived three streets away from the cat's owners and did not know them.

She had been walking from her mother's home to her own, and had often stopped to stroke Lola, he said.

Image caption Bale said she "bitterly regretted" what she had done

Bale's solicitor David Murray said his client could offer no explanation for her actions in Brays Lane in August.

"Miss Bale, daily, almost hourly, for the past two months has asked herself that very question," he said.

He added that she was suffering from anxiety and depression and had resigned from her job after 27 years.

Outside court, he said Bale "bitterly regretted" what she had done.

He said for the 10 days before the incident she had been visiting her father in hospital who was in a critical condition after a fall.

'Soul-searching'

"She was under tremendous strain and has since been diagnosed as suffering from depression.

"Despite a lengthy period of soul-searching she cannot still explain her behaviour and wishes to again repeat her apology to the owners of Lola."

He added she had paid a "significant price".

"She has received hate-mail, abusive telephone messages and death threats," Mr Murray said.

Bale's actions sparked outrage when Lola's owner Darryl Mann posted the footage on the internet.

He found Lola after she had been in the bin for 15 hours, then checked his security camera video to see what had happened.

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Media captionRSPCA Inspector Nicky Foster: "She has no excuse."

Within hours, angry messages had been posted online and later a Facebook page, reportedly calling for Bale's death, was removed.

Mr Mann, and his wife Stephanie, said they had been "stunned" by the public reaction to the footage and asked people not to take matters into their own hands.

In addition to the fine Bale was ordered to pay costs of £1,171 and banned from keeping or owning animals for the next five years.

Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Nicky Foster said the costs order and the ban would act as a deterrent to others.

"She (Bale) said in court that she doesn't know why she has done it, so she has no excuse."

Ms Foster said Lola had been extremely lucky to come out unharmed.

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