Teenage girl locked up for killing cat with crossbow

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The Independent Online

A teenager was locked up for three months today after shooting dead her neighbour's cat with a crossbow.

Chloe O'Connor, 19, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, had been drinking with her boyfriend when she spotted the cat, called Trouble, on the garden fence next door.

She shot at the six-year-old pet from the bedroom window of her house on Grange Road South, on 22 June this year, Tameside Magistrates' Court was told today.

The bolt pierced his stomach and came out of the other side.

The ginger and white Tom managed to drag itself part of the way home before it collapsed and died.

When officers knocked on her door the next day, former nursery nurse O'Connor admitted shooting the cat, saying: "I did it last night when I was drunk."

Mark Harper, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said she had caused it to suffer and die a painful death.

He said: "Chloe knew if she hit the cat it would kill it or certainly do some damage to it. She did not check whether she had hit it, saying it was too dark to see."

Mr Harper read out a victim impact statement from Trouble's 51-year-old owner Giovanni Zazzarino, who rescued him as a kitten.

"He was much loved by me and my two daughters. I was totally upset when I heard he had been shot. My daughters are devastated. I can't believe what has happened.

"I want Chloe O'Connor to be harshly sentenced. If she has it in her to do that to a cat then what type of person is she?" he said.

The pair had set up targets in O'Connor's garden, and police found kitchen units full of holes which they had practised on, the court heard.

Russell Wild, mitigating, said that O'Connor, who had admitted one charge of animal cruelty at an earlier hearing, resigned from her job after the incident.

He said she was "disgusted and ashamed of herself", adding that the teenager has received death threats, and had been a prisoner in her home. Teenagers have pushed things through her letterbox and chanted from outside her house, he said.

A Facebook group called "Chloe O'Connor, Cat Killer" has also been set up.

"It is a shocking offence towards this animal but it is a complete one-off. She has no previous convictions. She admitted she had done this from the moment the police came to her door," Mr Wild said.

Magistrate Brian Goodhand said the incident not only had a psychological effect on the family but also on the community.

Sentencing O'Connor to 12 weeks in a youth offender institute, he said: "Trouble was a much loved family pet. This is a sad day for the community.

"This was a deliberate and inconsiderate incident while you were under the influence. We have no good reason to suspend your sentence".

He also ruled that the teenager cannot own a pet for 10 years.

In a statement after the hearing, RSPCA Inspector Vicki McDonald said she was pleased with the result and hoped it would act as a clear warning that animal cruelty was "wholly unacceptable".

She added: "This was an horrific and deliberate act of cruelty against an innocent pet.

"Trouble will have suffered unimaginable fear, distress and pain as a result of Miss O'Connor's actions.

"Although the outcome for Trouble cannot be changed, I hope today's conclusion goes some way towards comforting and reassuring his owners that justice has been done."