London Teenager, Convicted of Killing the HMS Belfast's Kilo, Also Is Unmasked as a Remorseless Liar and Drunkard
"I noticed three people at the end of the gangway. One of them picked up the ship's cat and dropped him over the side of the rail. The person was wearing a distinctive white hooded top. It stood out."
-- Security guard Steve Laceby
A sixteen-year-old miscreant from the borough of Enfield in south London was convicted on October 23rd in Camberwell Green Youth Court for hurling the HMS Belfast's resident mascot and mouser, Kilo, to his death in the Thames at 6 a.m. on February 9th. She is scheduled to be sentenced later this month and could receive up to six months in the clink as well as be fined a maximum of twenty-five-thousand pounds.
Identified by the media only as Jessica, she swore in court that she was as innocent as a newborn lamb in spite of the incontrovertible fact that she and her two accomplices were photographed by surveillance cameras boarding the museum ship. (See Cat Defender posts of July 17, 2008 and October 2, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Trio of Laughing Yobs Board HMS Belfast and Hurl Kilo to His Death in the Thames" and "Sixteen-Year-Old Girl Is Finally Arrested in the Horrific Drowning Death of Kilo of the HMS Belfast.")
Even more damning was the eyewitness testimony of security guard Steve Laceby. "I noticed three people at the end of the gangway. One of them picked up the ship's cat and dropped him over the side of the rail," he told the court according to the October 24th edition of The Sun. (See "Girl, Sixteen, Guilty of Killing Ship's Cat.") "The person was wearing a distinctive white hooded top. It stood out." (See surveillance photo above.)
Far from displaying an ounce of remorse, Jessica was so brazen as to deliberately lie to the court about being in her cups at the time of the incident. Worst still, she was fully prepared to allow her obliging boyfriend to take the rap for her heinous crime. (He presumably is the one on the right in the photo above.)
To her credit, Judge Sue Green was not so easily bamboozled. "I do not believe the truth of the evidence these three young people have given," she said.
"I am entirely satisfied that they were all drinking heavily. The boyfriend, by his own admission, was completely out of it," she continued. "The defendant denied she had been drinking but I do not accept that."
Jessica's unnamed boyfriend, also sixteen years of age, was even so bold as to claim not only that he had killed Kilo but that he was justified in doing so because the cat had scratched him. (See photo above of Kilo.) In doing so, he was sans doute copying a page from the playbook of notorious Manhattan cat killer Joseph Petcka.
In that disquieting case, the six-foot, two-inch, two-hundred-ten-pound former New York Mets' farmhand used his steel-toed motorcycle boots in order to stomp to death girlfriend Lisa Altobelli's cat, Norman, in March of 2007. The seven-pound, declawed moggy suffered four broken bones in the assault and as a result bled and suffocated to death as his tiny lungs filled with blood. (See photo below.)
At the recently concluded trial, Petcka testified that Norman not only bit him but also somehow managed to toss him on his derriere. As outlandish as all of that sounds, he nonetheless succeeded in convincing one juror to go along with his blatant lies and thus beat the rap. (See New York Post, September 19, 2008, "Puss n' Boots" and CBS News, September 26, 2008, "Hung Jury Declared in Cat-Killer Trial.")
Prosecutors have indicated that they may retry the case but it is looking more likely that Petcka will plead guilty to a lesser charge. (See photo below.) In either case, he most likely will get off without any jail time. (See Newsday, October 23, 2008, "Lawyer in New York Cat-Kill Case Says Plea Deal Possible.")
Petcka, like Jessica, also had been hitting the bottle before he killed defenseless Norman. If individuals want to soak their gourds in John Barleycorn that is their business, but the courts never should accept inebriation as a valid excuse for killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of September 15, 2008 and August 31, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Drunken Brute Beats, Stabs, and Then Hurls Fifi to Her Death Against the Side of a House in Limerick" and "Animal Control Officer Goes on Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at Massachusetts Shelter.")
There can be little doubt that Jessica richly deserves to be given the maximum sentence allowable under the law. Furthermore, she should be given extra time for perjuring herself. The same holds true for her boyfriend.
Although it is not about to happen in a million years, Judge Green should do both cats and society a huge favor and put away all three offenders for life. Since moral character is formed at an early age, it is hard to imagine any of them ever amounting to anything other than the vilest of career criminals.
More to the point, they should have been tried as adults in the first place. If they are old enough to commit the crime, they are old enough to do the time.
Once they have put Kilo's murder behind them, they undoubtedly will go on to commit further outrages against both animals and humans. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that Kilo is the first cat that they either have abused or killed.
Their worthless parents also should be held legally accountable for allowing them to stay out all night boozing and committing crimes. Their dereliction of duty is almost as reprehensible as the conduct of their children.
Kilo is, unfortunately, dead and nothing is going to bring him back but Judge Green can let it be known in no uncertain terms that killing cats will not be tolerated by making examples out of Jessica and her cohorts. Such a ruling would go a long way towards not only saving the lives of innumerable cats, but also in checking the spiraling cycle of violence directed against them all across England.
Photos: HMS Belfast (Killers and Kilo), Lisa Altobelli (Norman), and Hermann of the New York Daily News (Petcka).