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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Woman who drowned four cats in a bath while high on drink and drugs is spared jail

By Ted Thornhill

A woman ‘systematically’ drowned her friend's four cats in a bath while high on drink and drugs then threw their bodies into a neighbour’s garden.

Samantha Browning, 21, from West Bromwich, escaped jail for the cruel act, and so did the 17-year-old owner, who ran the bath.

The incident, which happened between January 1 and February 17 this year, only came to light when the actions were posted on a friend's Facebook status and reported to police.

The pair were handed 18-week jail sentences, suspended for two years.

The teen, who cannot be named, had owned the four cats for less than a year and had been struggling to support them, Sandwell Magistrates Court heard.

Prosecuting, Nick Sutton told the court the two had been at a friend's party when they returned to the teenager’s house in Tipton, West Midlands.

Browning then drowned the four cats in a bath that her friend had run.

Mr Sutton said: ‘These were sentient intelligent animals.

‘The acts will have been loud and a struggle so those waiting, trapped in the flat, must have had some idea of what was about to happen waiting to die.

‘In the olden days it was deemed to be the kind thing to do to drown unwanted kittens, but we are not in those days.

‘The cats' bodies were put in a black plastic bag and thrown over a fence into a neighbour’s garden.

‘The owner claims it was Miss Browning's idea to drown the cats, but it happened in her flat, she must have known what was going on.’

Helen Penning, defending Browning, from West Bromwich, claimed she was horrified with her actions and wanted to stop, but the teenager had insisted she finish the job.

Agonising end: The cats (not pictured) were stuffed into a plastic bag and thrown into a neighbour's garden

‘Samantha Browning is incredibly remorseful for her actions,’ Mrs Penning said.

‘She is disgusted with herself now and has not touched alcohol or drugs since as she doesn't want to be in that state of mind ever again.’

Jim Cooper, defending the flat’s owner, said she had locked herself in the bedroom playing loud music while Browning drowned the cats.

He said: ‘There were some days when she ate and the cats didn't.

'And others where it was the other way around.

‘She had become desperate, she did attempt to contact an animal charity to have them re-homed but clearly not to a far enough extent.

‘She knows what happened was abhorrent.’

The teenager pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of animals in her care while Browning pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

They were both also sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work, put under two year supervision orders and banned from owning animals for ten years.

They were ordered to pay £480 court costs each.

Sentencing the pair, magistrate David Payne said: ‘This matter is so serious we must give you a custodial sentence.

‘You caused prolonged suffering to these animals.

‘It may be a suspended sentence but you have escaped going to custody today by the skin of your teeth.

‘I hope this act will stay with you to think about for years to come.’



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