MP John Hemming's wife sentenced for cat snatch

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The Independent Online

An MP's wife was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence today for snatching a kitten from the home of her husband's mistress.

Christine Hemming, 53, from Moseley, Birmingham, was convicted of burglary by a jury at the city's Crown Court last month.

She was captured on CCTV stealing a four-month-old tabby from the home of Emily Cox, the long-term lover of Liberal Democrat John Hemming.

Mrs Hemming was told her sentence would be suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work, and pay costs of £1,000.

She made no comment as she left the court after the hearing.

Mrs Hemming denied the charge but was found guilty after jurors watched CCTV footage of her taking the cat from the home of Mr Hemming's mistress, Emily Cox, last September.

Cameras filmed Mrs Hemming crawling on her hands and knees beneath a window before entering the property and emerging with the cat, named Beauty, under her arm.

During the trial she accepted that the footage looked "terrible" but said she had simply been trying to avoid being seen by any children at the property, claiming she was at the house to drop off some post.

The mother of three told jurors she had "no recollection" of taking the tabby, which was never seen again, from Ms Cox's property in Moseley, Birmingham.

Jurors heard that Mrs Hemming, her husband, and Ms Cox were involved in a "love triangle" at the time of the burglary.

Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, Mr Hemming said: "I'm not happy about the situation generally.

"It's not good, is it, but none of it was necessarily that good anyway.

"Obviously it's not a nice situation to be in, nobody would wish it, but that's the way it is."

He added: "It's not good for any of my children, but on the other hand she (Mrs Hemming) had to stay out of Emily's garden."

Asked how he thought his constituents might react to the story, he said: "They knew that I had two relationships back in 2010 when I was elected, a lot of people knew in 2000. But the reality about it is we move on.

"I've got a job to do, I've got political work to do in the next few minutes.

"I am out here talking to you very quickly and then I am getting on with my work."

Prosecutor Jason Pegg said the kitten was "of great sentimental value".

He added: "There was deliberate targeting of Emily Cox's address, some may say out of deliberate spite.

"The kitten has never been recovered. What happened to it, nobody knows."

Judge Elizabeth Fisher told Mrs Hemming: "Emily Cox made it clear in her evidence that you had no permission to enter her house and that you would never be welcome in her home.

"The kitten has not been seen since the burglary offence. This inevitably would have caused a degree of upset to the victim and her young daughter."

The judge added that she accepted Mrs Hemming was "under considerable emotional pressure" in the period leading up to the burglary.

Speaking to ITV News this afternoon, Mrs Hemming said: "I'm not a criminal, yet I have a conviction.

"I did not deliberately take the cat. The whole process has been very unfortunate."

She added: "Why I stepped in, I'll never know. And then I tried to hide in the adjacent room, but when it's cut and clipped (the CCTV footage) it looks terrible. Particularly when I left holding the cat.

"I think that the cat's the victim."

Mrs Hemming said during her trial that she had no recollection of taking the kitten, describing the incident as "a blur".