Christine Hemming, 53, may be the ultimate cat burglar. The wife of Member of Parliament John Hemming is allegedly shown in this video breaking into the mistress of her husband and stealing her kitten, Beauty.
The burglary took place after the MP moved out of his home and into the home of Emily Cox. Cox is the former personal assistant Ms Cox. Adding to the scandal was testimony that Cox and the Hemmings were once in a “love triangle”. Christine testified that Henning had 26 mistresses, which he denies. Hemming has a four-year-old daughter with Cox. In what may be the ultimate difference between us and our English cousins, the scandal has not unseated Hemming who actually went and entered his own name in the News of The World Competition for Love Rat of the Year in 2005.
The defense was that Christine was just delivering the mail and does not recall stealing Beauty, which is still missing.
Despite her conviction, Hemming insisted: “I had no intention of stealing a cat – either before I went to the property, when I was at the property, when I left the property, and subsequently.”
The question is what she did with or to Beauty, who was snatched three days after her husband moved out. We discuss such cases in torts, which are often litigated as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The law does not value pets at their true value to a person. Rather a pet is valued at its replacement or purchase price. That creates a sharp disconnect for a client who viewed the pet as a family member or friend. Accordingly, the true value of the pet is often captured by cycling the loss through the human in the form of emotional distress damages. It is tragically all too common for pets to be killed after breakups.
The market value of a pet can sometime hinder prosecutions if it is below a line for a felony. However, when combined with burglary, a felony can bring a substantial penalty.
Christine will be sentence later but the trial left one lingering question: where is Beauty if not in the eyes (and the hands) of the beholder?