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Pet killed by 'electric fence'

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22nd May 2003 - BBC News

An 11-year-old girl found her pet cat dead after a neighbour installed electrified wires to protect his flowers.

Laura Bulmer discovered the 10-month-old black cat, called Toby, with smoke still coming from its mouth after it strayed into the garden of pensioner James Pringle Smith.

The 68-year-old had installed electric wires in the garden of his Penrith, Cumbria, home to deter pets trampling on his flower beds.

Mr Pringle Smith admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal when he appeared before Eden magistrates.

The pensioner, who was unrepresented, told the hearing that for years he had been bothered by cats which had scratched up his garden and made a mess which smelled awful.

He said: "I thought it wouldn't harm them, but would just shock them - that's my only excuse.

"I didn't mean to kill the cat or harm it in any way."

Mr Pringle Smith said he put up a wire grid and attached it to a 12-volt battery charger, which delivered 15 amps.

But the court heard from an electrician who said a small child could have been injured if it came into contact with the wires.

The court was told the animal had probably been caught in the wires and, thinking he was under attack, had bitten the wire and suffered "quite an awful death".

Presiding magistrate Howard Eastwood told Mr Pringle Smith: "Your actions were foolhardy in the extreme and could have hurt a child."

He was ordered to pay 50 compensation to the dead cat's owners, Dawn and Simon Bulmer, and to pay 55 court costs.

But after the hearing Mr Bulmer, said: "I think that the sentence this man has been given is a disgrace, an absolute insult.

"My daughter cannot sleep at night because of what happened, she was the one who found Toby and she has had countless nightmares since it happened, she is so upset."

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