Was this pensioner fined enough for killing cats? The exact number is probably not known but according to the story1 five cats belonging to the pensioner’s neighbours were poisoned.
£125 seems a very small fine when the maximum that he could have been fined was £5,000. How many cats does a person have to kill before he is punished something near the maximum?
The story concerns a man living in the UK, Donald Waterworth, 79, who put down plates of tuna in his garden which were laced with antifreeze. His next-door neighbour spotted him doing this after she had lost four of her cats. They all fell ill within 2 weeks in October 2013. The names of her cats were: Tippex, Affro, Midnight and Lily.
In addition to these four cats a fifth can be added, owned by Julie McClumpa, who lost her 8-year-old Treacle and about the same time.
What is interesting about this case is that Mr Waterworth admitted to knowingly putting down the poisoned food but it was not proved that the tuna had killed any of the cats.
Nonetheless, he was successfully prosecuted and as mentioned his conviction led to a sentence of £125.
After Tippex had been poisoned he would let his owner Julie stroke him and curled up in a ball in the corner of a room (the typical behavior of a very sick cat). Julie took him to the vet and the vet diagnosed antifreeze poisoning. The vet could do nothing to save Tippex and he was euthanised. Tippex was only 11 months old and Julie is naturally extremely upset. Why isn’t there an antidote to antifreeze poisoning in cats?
Mr Waterworth was prosecuted by the RSPCA under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which states:
If any person shall wilfully, without any reasonable cause or excuse, administer, or cause or procure, or being the owner permit, such administration of, any poisonous or dangerous drug or substance to any animal, or shall wilfully, without any reasonable cause an excuse, cause any such substance to be taken by any animal….. such person shall be guilty of an offence of cruelty within the meaning of this Act, and shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
Level 5 on the standard scale of fines is a maximum of £5000.
This pensioner could have been sent to jail for 6 months but got away with a measly fine. I think magistrates and judges undervalue the domestic cat. This undervaluation of the domestic cat’s life occurs in any court anywhere in the world in my experience. Courts fail to factor in the emotional connection between cat and cat caretaker. Judges and magistrates value the domestic cat as they would a second-hand fridge. This is incorrect.
1. Source: The Times.