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PROSECUTION LOOMS FOR CAT WOMAN MARY; Jail term is maximum sentence if RSPCA decides to take legal action.

Byline: Martin Bagot

RSPCA legal officers are considering whether to prosecute Coventry cat woman Mary Bale for dumping a kitten in a wheelie bin.

The 45-year-old has been interviewed and a case file is being considered by the charity's prosecutions department.

Meanwhile the Telegraph has learned bank worker Ms Bale has complained of harassment as the furore over CCTV footage uploaded on to the internet attracted attention from the world's media.

West Midlands Police revealed Ms Bale made the complaints before being given a police escort from her mother's home in Stoke on Wednesday. A spokesman said: "If she calls us and feels she has been harassed we have to respond as we would do for anyone."

The police have left it to the RSPCA to make a private prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act. The maximum punishment under the act is a pounds 20,000 fine or a six month prison sentence.

The RSPCA legal team is expected to make a decision over whether to prosecute Ms Bale within the next three days. A spokeswoman for the charity said: "We will be putting together a full case file to put before our prosecutions department before we decide whether to proceed."

It comes a day after Ms Bale apologised for dumping cat Lola in a wheelie bin.

CCTV cameras outside a terraced house in Brays Lane, Stoke, captured her stroking the kitten, before lifting the bin lid and dropping her in. Lola's owners Stephanie and Darryl Mann then posted the footage on You Tube and set up a Facebook group called "Help find the woman who put my cat in the bin".

The group attracted almost 30,000 members before being taken down after abuse and death threats were posted from as far afield as Australia.

City councillor Allan Andrews is the brother of Lola's owner, Stephanie Mann.

The Coventry councillor for the Earlsdon ward said the hysteria surrounding the story had become "worrying".

"Stephanie's been on the One Show and interviewed on all the news channels. She was even on CBS News in America. But we don't want any physical harm to come to Mary. We don't want vigilante attacks," he said.

A series of spoof videos has now spread across the internet.

One - called Revenge of the Cat by city radio station Mercia FM - was listed as the sixth most popular clip on social network Twitter and reached 100 on You Tube. A newspaper has even an online compute where players can Bale in a number of bins.

INTEREST in Mary Bale has swept across the internet after the story made headlines around the world. Social networking site saw thousands of people join groups to discuss the story that appeared on the Telegraph's website on Monday.

Some of these groups have since been taken down after threatening messages were posted.

The names of these 'tribute' groups include: Mary Bale is worse than Hitler Death toMary Bale cat abuser


QUESTION TIME: Mary Bale is visited by police at her home in Stoke BACK ON THE PROWL: Lola has recovered from her ordeal TURNING THE TABLES: Mercia FM's spoof video
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 27, 2010
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