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CONVICTED: Was justice served?
Please vote on whether or not you feel the sentence in this case was appropriate for the crime. (Be sure to read the entire case and sentencing before voting.)
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A woman caught on camera dropping a cat into its owners' wheelie bin said today she didn't know what all the fuss was about.
A vitriolic campaign launched against Mary Bale on the social networking site Facebook was removed this morning. Posters had called for her death, described her as "evil" and a "psycho" and demanded her sacking from her job as a customer services assistant with the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Police had described some of the material as "inflammatory and offensive".
Bale, 45, who is the subject of an RSPCA investigation and is said to live just half a mile from the scene of the cat's 15-hour incarceration in Coventry, told the Sun that she did "not deserve to be hated" for her moment of madness. People were over-reacting, she said.
Bale was identified after Stephanie and Darryl Andrews-Mann put up footage on the web of their four-year-old pet Lola's treatment taped by their own security CCTV on Saturday night. They discovered her in the bin after hearing her cries the following morning.
"I really don't see what everyone is getting so excited about. It's just a cat," Bale said. "I was walking home from work and saw this cat wander out in front of me. I was playing with it, stroking it and listening to it purr as it stood on a garden wall. It was very friendly.
"I don't know what came over me, but I suddenly thought it would be funny to put it in the wheelie bin, which was right beside me. I did it as a joke because I thought it would be funny. I never thought it would be trapped. I expected it to wriggle out of the bin."
Bale added: ""People are reading too much into things. I've no feelings about cats one way or the other. I don't keep pets myself, but I have no problem with people who do.
"To think this video is being seen around the world is unbelievable. I'm a very private person and don't want to upset any members of my family. I don't know what my relatives will think, but to be honest I think everyone's overreacting a bit.
"OK, I shouldn't have done it, but it's just a cat at the end of the day. I don't think I deserve to be hated by people all over the world, it was just a split second of madness."
A Facebook spokeswoman said: "We can't comment on individual cases for privacy reasons but I can tell you that one group, entitled Death to Mary Bale, has been removed today."
She said Facebook users were encouraged to report any offensive comments posted on the site, adding that moderators would remove anything deemed to be a "credible threat".
A spokeswoman for West Midlands police said: "We have monitored Facebook to assess any threat of harm to Mary Bale as part of this investigation.
"The investigation is being led by the RSPCA but obviously the other strand of this now is Mary Bale's safety and we are looking at the potential impact of these messages. I would not go so far as to say we are investigating death threats, that is not the situation, but we are closely monitoring these groups and messages."
She added: "There are no plans to give any kind of formal police protection but we are talking to Mary Bale about her personal safety, we are having that conversation with her, and we do want to make sure she is OK."
Mrs Andrews-Mann said: "I can't believe the reaction to the story. I only posted it on Facebook because I wanted to see who she was. Now that the police know who she is, I think people should leave it to them and the RSPCA and not take matters into their own hands.
"Whatever she has done, I don't like her, but I don't want her to get hurt. It needs to be dealt with properly, not by people getting aggressive with her."
The woman who made headlines around the world in August when CCTV footage emerged of her dumping a cat in a wheelie bin has been fined £250 after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animal.
Mary Bale, 45, admitted the charge at Coventry magistrates' court yesterday. The court heard that Bale was walking from her mother's home when she started to stroke the cat before "scruffing" it and depositing it in the bin.
She was fined £250 plus a £15 victim surcharge and costs of £1,171. She was also banned from keeping animals for five years.
District Judge Caroline Goulborn said there had been the potential for substantial harm to the cat but it had not been hurt. The judge added: "The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified ... and I have taken that into account."
Cat bin woman Mary Bale is escorted by police yesterday as she heads for a grilling by RSPCA officers.
The bank worker, 44, finally admitted she was "profoundly sorry" for the sick stunt in Coventry, having initially dismissed it as a joke.
She added: "All I want to do is put things right. I never meant for this to happen. I'll do anything to make amends." An RSPCA source said it could take a month to decide whether to press cruelty charges after she was filmed shutting four-yearold cat Lola in a wheelie bin.
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