Court shame of cat menace

WILD bird lover Philip Pratt caught a neighbour’s cat in a snare in his garden – just months after being convicted of shooting dead another cat.

Pratt, aged 76, appeared before Cheltenham magistrates on Tuesday and admitted cruelty to a cat in his garden.

The court heard how the part-time forester had trapped the cat, Socks, in a snare set in a hedge between his own and his neighbour’s garden in Gloucester Street, Winchcombe.

In March Pratt had been fined £1,000 after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to a cat by shooting it with an air rifle.

Miss Catherine Marlow, prosecuting, told the hearing that Mrs Jane Coyle, who lives two doors away from Pratt, became concerned when her cat, Socks, had not eaten his food.

“She called and whistled and heard a distressed mewing,” said Miss Marlow. “She went into her neighbour’s garden and found Socks trapped in a snare in the hedge bordering Pratt’s garden.

“The wire snare was around Socks’ abdomen and she could not free it.” In the end Miss Marlow had to get neighbour Ralph Wade to free Socks using wire cutters.

Police officers later found two more snares and three fox traps at Pratt’s home.

Pratt was arrested on October 23 and Miss Marlow added: “He also told the officers that he set traps to catch cats, which he would kill with a spade and bury.”

Mr Ramin Pakrooh, defending, said: “This is not a case of someone being cruel for the sake of it, but to protect the wildlife in his garden.

“When he moved into the house 21 years ago he had a variety of wild birds, including blackbirds, starlings, woodpeckers of both species – green and greater spotted – and other songbirds. They have disappeared – driven away or hunted by local cats.”

Pratt said he had now bought a high-frequency cat scarer on the advice of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. “It is absolutely the answer to my problems with cats,” he said.

Magistrates fined him £500 and ordered him to pay £250 compensation to Mrs Coyle and £54 costs.

In an unconnected case Pratt was given a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing a double-barrelled shotgun without a licence, which magistrates ordered be destroyed.

After the hearing Mr Wade said: “Pratt has been a neighbour from hell for all of the eight years I have lived in Winchcombe.”

He added: “He just ignores the law and makes life a misery for everyone in the neighbourhood.”

Also in court was Chris French, whose cat, Dolly, died from injuries received when Pratt shot her with an air rifle in March.

“We have moved to Gretton to make sure our two other cats, Hector and Poppy can live safely,” he said.

“We just could not carry on living there with that man beside us.”

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