A 79-year-old man has admitted poisoning his neighbours’ cats, leading them to suffer a “horrific” death.
Five cats, belonging to Leyland mums Julie McClumpha and Linsey Bilsborough, were found to have been poisoned with tuna, laced with anti freeze.
Now their neighbour, Donald Waterworth, has admitted knowingly putting down poison, and has been ordered to pay more than £1,800.
Julie, who lives in Broadfield Drive, lost her eight-year-old cat Treacle in October last year.
She said: “She had gone through the most horrific death - I wouldn’t like anybody to have to witness it. It was awful.
“She came back - my cats are outdoors, I don’t keep them in the house. She was very lethargic and not interested in anything and spent the whole day and night sitting on the litter tray.
“The following day I put some milk down and I turned around and it had gone pink - she was probably internal bleeding and it was coming out when she was trying to drink.
“She was doubled over in pain and within an hour she started convulsing and her limbs were twitching constantly.
“By 6pm on the Saturday she had died. From start to finish it was 48 hours.
“It was a quick death but very painful, she had blood bubbles coming out of her mouth.”
After Treacle’s death, Julie found out her neighbour Linsey had lost four of her six pet cats in a similar way.
She said: “Nothing happened after that incident at the end of October until March this year.
“While I was making my tea I spotted my neighbour with a torch in his back garden.
“I thought it was strange because he had a security light and it wasn’t on.
“I went upstairs and went into the room that overlooks his garden and watched him.
“He has a garden shed that’s got an internal light and that was on, and I thought ‘What’s he doing?’
“I could only see his left arm and he was moving in a gesture that you would if you were stirring something up.
“This was just after 8pm.”
Julie, 55, said she then saw Waterworth come out carrying a container and put it down behind a storage box at the bottom of the garden.
She said: “I thought ‘I know what he’s doing. It’s him doing the poisoning’.
“I got the cats in and went to my neighbour and said ‘I hope I’m wrong, but I think I know who’s doing it’.”
From Linsey’s garden, they managed to retrieve the dish, which was analysed and found to contain tuna and anti freeze.
A case was brought at Preston Magistrates Court by the RSPCA against Waterworth, 79, under the protection of animals act, and he admitted the charge against him.
The offence was that on or about March 13 2014, at his property in Broadfield Drive, he knowingly put tuna down laced with poison (anti freeze), contrary to section 8 of the protection of animals act.
He was ordered to pay a £125 fine, as well as £1,665.66 in costs and a £20 surcharge.
Julie said: “It’s not going to bring my cat back, it’s not going to undo what he’s done, but I think I was more glad that I was believed by the RSPCA and that I had found who had done it.”
Linsey, 45, who lives next door to Waterworth, lost four of her cats, Tip-ex, Affro, Midnight and Lily, and said: “I just didn’t have a clue that it was him.
“I think that’s what’s upset me more because I thought we were friends.
“I even went around and asked if he had any pets because I thought somebody had poisoned my cats.”
Tip-ex had to be put to sleep in October, after becoming ill and showing symptoms of being poisoned.
The mum-of-two said: “The day after, the window cleaner came around and said ‘Do you know you’ve got a cat that’s died under one of your chairs?’”
Midnight and Lily, who were brother and sister, also died, and Linsey said she was “absolutely devastated”.
She contacted the RSPCA this year after retrieving the tuna from the neighbouring garden, and also paid to have the substance analysed.
She said: “It wasn’t a good time. I was feeling horrendous.
“When you lose one pet it’s bad enough, but when you lose four in such a short time you don’t know when it’s going to end.”
RSPCA Inspector Ian Robertson said: “This was a satisfactory outcome to the case.
“The RSPCA advise people if they suspect their cat has been poisoned, to take it to a vet immediately.
“If possible, taking a sample of what the cat has eaten/drunk.”