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George the cat's kidnappers ordered by police to write letters of apology to his Pennington owners

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TWO people have been ordered to write letters of apology after admitting to kidnapping a cat in Pennington and dumping him in the New Forest nearly six miles away.

The man in his 70s and woman in her 60s were also ordered by police to attend a victim awareness course and given a community resolution order.

The letters of apology have been sent to the pet’s owners, Eileen Lemon and Julia Town, who live in Gordon Road.

Eileen with George (54905673)
Eileen with George (54905673)

Eileen said: “They explain why they did it but it still does not make sense to me. I can’t imagine why anyone would behave the way they did.”

Police interviewed the suspected couple after they were spotted taking George, a ginger rescue cat from Romania, out of a car at Beaulieu aerodrome and “shooing” him away on 2nd February, soon after he went missing.

After Eileen and Julia posted on social media about their “total devastation”, there was a huge response from the community with dozens volunteering to help find him.

It was cat-tracker Peter Hawkins, from Poole, who eventually managed to catch George eight days later.

George with Peter Hawkins who found him
George with Peter Hawkins who found him

He slept in his car while undertaking an intensive hunt which involved humane traps, thermal imaging drones and cameras.

Peter, who runs Cats Lost Stolen Found in Dorset, told the A&T: “I was not going to give up. There were sightings of him which helped to pin down the area he was in.

“He appeared in the small car park at Hatchet Pond at about the same time every day, chasing mice and rats.”

Peter used the drones and cameras to keep tabs on the cat’s movements – once managing to get a photo of him sat on a grass verge.

Peter said: “He seemed quite happy but I don’t know how long he could have kept going. It was starting to get very cold.

“The last night I baited the trap with dead mice I had got from a reptile pet shop. This time the trap worked perfectly.”

Talking of the moment he reunited George with Eileen and Julia, he said: “He literally strolled out of his cage and into the house as if he was saying, ‘Oh, I’m home!’ It was a fantastic feeling to finally get him.

“There were a lot of smiles and tears from Eileen and Julia. When they first saw him, they just couldn’t speak.

George with Eileen, Julia and his rescuers (54905678)
George with Eileen, Julia and his rescuers (54905678)

“I think they feared they’d never see him again.”

Eileen told how there were “just tears of joy” from her and Julia, adding: “We are both so overwhelmingly relieved and ecstatic to have him home – all thanks to the dedication, determination, and humanity of amazing people.”

She said it was thanks to the person who saw George being dumped that Peter was able to successfully track him.

The yellow spot marks where George ws found (54905670)
The yellow spot marks where George ws found (54905670)

In a statement police said: “As part of our investigation, a man in his 70s and woman in her 60s were identified as having taken the cat.

“After admitting the offence, they were both issued with a community resolution order with a condition to attend a victim awareness course and to write a letter of apology to the owner.

“The owner of the cat was consulted on this outcome and agreed this was the best justice pathway.”

A fundraising webpage has been set up to help volunteer Peter rescue more cats like George. Donate at gofund.me/2cbf1c78

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