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Bournemouth Crown Court: Christchurch woman Lorraine George given suspended jail sentence after keeping Persian cats in ‘squalid’ conditions

A CHRISTCHURCH woman who kept 24 pedigree Persian cats in “squalid” conditions – some in “severe” pain – has avoided jail.

Appearing via video link at Bournemouth Crown Court, Lorraine George (64), of Freshwater Road, was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

She was also disqualified from keeping cats for 10 years and ordered to pay £53,275 in prosecution costs.

Squalid conditions in Lorraine George's home
Squalid conditions in Lorraine George's home

Judge Jonathan Fuller told the court George was found guilty at trial of 13 counts of causing unnecessary harm to 13 cats between December 2021 and March 2022.

The court heard George moved into the home of her late parents in Freshwater Road in 2013 with 24 Persian cats that she kept and bred.

George had given the cats “almost free reign” over the premises but had “secured” some internal doors with chicken wire.

RSPCA alerted to cats' condition
RSPCA alerted to cats' condition

The court heard the RSPCA visited her home in 2019 and began legal proceedings against her that never went to trial during the national Covid lockdown.

Concerns were again raised about the animals in November 2021, when a visitor to George’s home told the RSPCA that living conditions there were “squalid and unclean”, and were having a “noticeable” effect on the cats’ health.

In March 2022, the RSPCA, police and vets visited the premises and seized the cats.

Vets said they were living in “unsanitary” conditions and were suffering from fur matted with faeces, in-grown and “chronically” infected claws, emaciation, dehydration, periodontal and respiratory diseases and, in one case, a “severely” infected, ruptured eyeball.

Lorraine George's home
Lorraine George's home

The court heard one of the cats had to be put down.

The judge said: “You were fully aware of these and other conditions for a prolonged period of time.

“Due to your obsession you refused advice from others, not only about the welfare of your cats but the number you were keeping.”

He added: “This was not a case of a well-intentioned but incompetent carer. This is a case of blatant disregard for animal welfare.”

Lorraine George's 'squalid' home
Lorraine George's 'squalid' home

He also criticised George for “refusing to accept” any wrongdoing and for not engaging with the RSPCA on multiple occasions – declining to be interviewed or allow the charity to take away any of the animals.

Appearing for the RSPCA, prosecutor Rowan Jenkins said George also owned three dogs that all appeared in good condition.

The defendant, who represented herself, pleaded for an adjournment, saying she had got out of hospital only that morning. Addressing the judge, she added: “I appreciate your opinion of me is not good.”

But George was told she had been given “ample time” to prepare for the sentencing and an adjournment was refused. The judge reassured her he would do his “utmost to be fair and balanced” in his sentencing.

The court heard George was of previously good character and suffered from a number of health complaints.

The conditions of Lorraine George's home
The conditions of Lorraine George's home

The order disqualifying her from keeping cats would not be activated for 28 days.

Following the conviction, RSPCA inspector Patrick Bailey said: “This case is an example of how the RSPCA will make every effort to try to educate an owner on the correct way to look after their animals before taking legal action.

“Inspectors repeatedly tried to encourage the defendant to reduce her number of cats, improve animal husbandry and crucially seek veterinary assistance in a timely manner, including euthanasia when required.

“But she did not make decisions based on what was in the best interests of each individual cat. The judge said this was not a case of well-intentioned but incompetent care, but one of deliberate disregard for animal welfare.”

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