LONDON (Reuters) - A British woman who sparked international outrage after CCTV film of her picking up a cat and dumping it in a rubbish bin was posted on the internet was fined 265 pounds ($420) for animal cruelty on Tuesday.
Mary Bale, 45, was also banned from keeping animals for five years after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to the cat, a four-year-old tabby called Lola.
Bale’s home in Coventry, central England, was at one point put under police guard after her actions shocked animal lovers and even attracted death threats.
Lola was found unharmed by her owners Darryl Mann and his wife Stephanie, crying for help inside the bin about 15 hours after she had gone missing in August
Bale was traced after Mann, who had installed security cameras outside his house after vandals damaged his car, put footage of the incident on YouTube.
District judge Caroline Goulborn told Bale at Coventry Magistrates Court that she had taken into account that media interest in the case had led to the former bank worker being “vilified.”
The court heard that that Bale, who had faced a maximum fine of 20,000 pounds or up six months’ imprisonment, could provide no answer to why she had acted in such an “impulsive and irrational” way, the Press Association reported.
Bale’s father, who died last week, was seriously ill at the time of the incident.
“I accept that you were in a stressful situation at the time, but that’s no excuse for what you did,” the judge said.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) charity brought the prosecution against Bale and was awarded costs of 1,170 pounds.
“The cat in this case has been extremely lucky to come out unharmed and with no lasting injuries,” said RSPCA inspector Nicky Foster.
After the hearing, Bale’s lawyer said his client had been under “tremendous strain” and had since been diagnosed with depression.
He said she wanted to apologize for her actions and bitterly regretted what she had done.
Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison