Thief spared jail so that he could feed his cat

District judge David Cooper was about to jail 55-year-old Steven Thorne for repeatedly shoplifting alcohol when he changed his mind after being informed about the pet cat.

Thorne's lawyer Julie Brice told the Colchester magistrates' court that there was no one to feed the cat, which was trapped indoors as Thorne did not have a cat flap at his home.

"She's been at home alone since he was arrested yesterday. She will be climbing the walls with hunger," The Sun Monday quoted Brice as saying.

The judge asked: "Is this a good reason not to send him to prison, because he has a cat? I've never heard of that."  But he then let Thorne off with a 75 pound fine.

The judge ordered Thorne to install a cat flap and said: "Would you kindly think of your cat a bit more before you start shoplifting again."

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