Trio of Laughing Yobs Board HMS Belfast and Hurl Kilo to His Death in the Thames
"It's no good people saying it was only a cat. He was our cat."
-- Brad King of HMS Belfast
Rescued from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home by naval recruits, Kilo only had been on his new job as mascot and head mouser of HMS Belfast for less than a year but he already had become a favorite of both the crew and the more than a quarter of a million paying tourists who annually visit the museum ship. (See photos above and below.)
He undoubtedly would have gone on and had many more happy and productive years if not for a chance encounter with three yobs at 6 a.m. on February 9th. That is when one of the trio of laughing miscreants picked up the unsuspecting moggy and hurled him overboard to his death in the Thames.
Kilo's body never has been recovered and no arrests have been made in the case. This is in spite of the fact that this horrific act of animal cruelty was not only witnessed by night watchmen but also captured on film by surveillance cameras.
Identification and apprehension of the perpetrators has been made difficult because at least one of them was wearing a hood. The Southwark Police, who are handling the investigation, nonetheless are said to be looking for two teenage girls and one teenage boy. In particular, a girl named Jessica is believed to be the one responsible for drowning Kilo.
"We have handed over our CCTV pictures and witness statements to the police because we want them to try and catch those responsible," Brad King, head of operations for HMS Belfast, told The Sun on July 1st. (See "Respect for Life Should Start with a Ship's Cat.") "It's no good people saying it was only a cat. He was our cat."
With the trail rapidly growing cold, the police last week took the desperate step of releasing a CCTV photograph of the three suspects to the media. (See photo below.)
"The actions of the people responsible for this are truly despicable, and they need to be caught as soon as possible," a police spokesman told the website LondonSE1 on July 9th. (See "Cat Drowned at HMS Belfast: Police Release CCTV Image.")
Although the English have an abiding fondness for cats that is truly commendable, crimes against the species have reached epidemic proportions in recent years with no surcease in sight. (See Cat Defender posts of May 7, 2007 and November 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "British Punks Are Having a Field Day Maiming Cats with Air Guns but the Peelers Continue to Look the Other Way" and "Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill Twelve-Year-Old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned.")
To make matters worse, the authorities heretofore have steadfastly refused to take seriously crimes committed against cats. Perhaps it will be different with Kilo but that remains to be seen.
"The UK has really become a very sick, twisted country," the fiery editor of Moggies wrote on the organization's website on May 26th. "If the police do not find those responsible and prosecute them to the full, then justice will certainly have died in this country."
Moreover, Kilo is the second cat that HMS Belfast has lost within a two-month period. A ginger tom named Oscar, who served as Kilo's companion and playmate, went ashore on Christmas Eve and has not been seen since.
Commissioned in 1939, the battle cruiser HMS Belfast saw action in both World War II and the Korean conflict before being retired in 1963. It was converted into a museum in 1971 and is moored on the south side of the Thames between the London and Tower bridges. (See photo above which was shot from the top of the Great Fire of London Monument.)
The ship's motto, pro tanto quid retribuamas, is particularly apt in the case of Kilo. "Kids have got to learn that they cannot go around behaving like this," King told The Sun in the article cited supra. "For Kilo's sake, I want those responsible caught and prosecuted."
That is all well and good but HMS Belfast drastically needs to upgrade its security. If its guards had been on the ball, the yobs never would have gotten on board in the first place and Kilo would still be alive today.
Photos: Moggies (Kilo and suspects) and Adrian Pingstone of Wikipedia (HMS Belfast).