British woman jailed for microwaving kitten

LONDON (AFP) - A woman with mental health problems was on Thursday jailed for 14 weeks by a British judge for killing her kitten by cooking it in the microwave.

Laura Cunliffe, 23, admitted putting her black-and-white pet Mowgli in the microwave as punishment for attacking her goldfish, the court in Barnsley in northern England heard.

She put the microwave on for five minutes but after a minute took out the cat when she realised what she had done. The kitten died later.

Judge John Foster told her: "This was an act of utterly horrendous cruelty on your part on an animal that, as far as I could see, had come to trust you and rely on you."

He sentenced her to 14 weeks in jail, saying the term was intended as a deterrent for others. She was also banned from keeping animals for life.

However, members of Cunliffe's family reacted angrily to the sentence, shouting as she was led away in handcuffs that "she doesn't know what's happening".

Cunliffe's lawyer, Alan Greaves, said his client had long-standing problems with psychotic depression and had been sectioned under mental health legislation 20 times.

Lawyers for the RSPCA animal charity, which brought the prosecution, said there was nothing to suggest Cunliffe was having a psychotic episode when she cooked the cat.

And Greaves accepted that she knew what she was doing at the time, saying she "just lost her temper" and adding: "She still can't believe what she's done."