Cat held hostage in North Wales rent row

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A WINDOW cleaner held a pedigree cat to ransom in a payment row with his former landlord.

Michael Lee Thomas West, 25, told Simone Pierce she could have her Persian cat back if she dropped criminal charges against him, Wrexham magistrates court heard.

West, now living on Campbell Street, Rhos, agreed to lodge with Miss Pierce at her home on Chester Road, Rossett, on December 29.

Matthew Ellis, prosecuting, said West agreed to pay £400 a month rent, which was then lowered to £300.

But Mr Ellis said West only paid the money in “dribs and drabs."

He then decided to leave without giving Miss Pierce any notice and so she told him she would not return his deposit.

West then bombarded Miss Pierce with 15 text messages asking for his money back on January 28.

On the same day West’s brother went to Miss Pierce’s home, pressed his face against the lounge window and said “If Westy doesn’t get his money by Friday I’m going to smoke the house out.”

The next day Miss Pierce was at home with her boyfriend when West came to the house four times shouting and kicking.

He sent an email saying he had been to her place of work and that she should go to the JobCentre as a result.

On January 30 West visited the house again and was banging on the door and shouting for her to come out.

Mr Ellis said: “She was too scared to respond."

West, a self-employed window cleaner, then drove his work van into the front door and damaged it so he could get into the house.

He picked up the grey Persian cat and put it in his van, the court heard.

A few days later West contacted Miss Pierce saying: “Do you want your cat or not?” to which she told him he should not be contacting her.

Mr Ellis said: “He said she can have the cat back if she drops the charges.

“He asked her to make sure the police were not involved and that she was alone.”

West then returned the cat in a carrier and gave it to Miss Pierce.

Mr Ellis said: “He said ‘I can’t believe you didn’t call to get your cat back.’

“The defendant was arrested and interviewed and made a full admission about taking the cat on January 30.”

Mr Ellis read a victim impact statement from Miss Pierce which said that she had been left “upset and feeling sick” about West’s harassment and that she was too scared to leave the house.

West admitted damaging a UPVC door, unlawfully entering the house, harassment and stealing a cat.

Mark Davies, defending, said: “Michael West felt that the landlord owed him money.
“This happened over a very short period of time during which he was arrested three times.

“This is a dispute about money and he went about it the wrong way.

“It was wrong to take it but he did return the cat.”

Magistrates sentenced West to an 18-month community order with a supervision requirement.

He was told to pay £250 compensation, costs of £85 and was issued with a restraining order not to contact Miss Pierce, Mr Evans, not to go to her place of work or to her home on Chester Street, Rossett.

See full story in the Leader

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