Cambridge: Christopher Boswell

#TheList self-styled ‘cat hunter’ Christopher Storer Boswell, born c. 1973, of 28 Eden Street, Cambridge CB1 1EL – shot a Siamese kitten with an air rifle

Self-styled 'cat hunter' Christopher Boswell from Cambridge and his victim, Siamese Pia.
Boswell proclaimed himself a ‘cat hunter’ and neighbours expressed concern that he may be responsible for the disappearance of up to 20 cats in the area

Christopher Boswell pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.

In June 2017 the then 73-year-old, who was described in court as a ‘cat hunter’ since he was 17 years old, was handed a 12-week prison sentence, ordered to pay £1,500 compensation and a £115 victim surcharge.

But Boswell appealed his sentence straight after the hearing, with an appeal then held at Cambridge Crown Court on July 20, 2017.

It was reported how Pia the white Siamese kitten, worth about £450, belonged to Cambridge resident Caroline King.

Ms King noticed her cat was missing from her garden about 7.20pm on April 7, 2017, and when she went round to ask Boswell about her missing cat, he told her he had been hunting cats since he was 17.

Boswell had told her: “I don’t like cats, I hate them. They are a menace to wildlife and birds.”

Ms King asked if Boswell was joking but he replied: “No, I’ve shot it twice – once in the head, once in the body and I have put it in the neighbour’s garden. You had better knock on their door.”

Ms King went to her neighbours’ garden where she saw her kitten lying motionless on the floor, making no attempt to move.

The kitten had to have her right leg amputated. One air rifle pellet caused a tear in Pia’s windpipe, while the other shattered her femur.

Ms King paid £5,168 for Pia’s veterinary treatment bills after the cat was rushed to a vet and spent more than a week at a Cambridge veterinary hospital.

In a victim impact statement, Ms King said: “I feel devastated and horrified and cannot fathom why somebody I do not know would carry out such an act.

“I cannot believe Chris would be so calm and calculated over what he has done as if he got some enjoyment from it – as he did not have to tell us and could have chosen to remain quiet.”

Following Boswell’s initial sentencing, a neighbour raised concerns he could have something to do with the disappearance of between 12 and 20 cats that have gone missing in the area in the previous five years.

Self-styled 'cat hunter' Christopher Boswell from Cambridge.
Boswell was initially jailed but following an appeal, his sentence was suspended

Michael Magee, mitigating for Boswell in the appeal hearing, said Boswell became increasingly isolated and lived a very solitary existence after his retirement.

He told the court that at the time of the incident, Boswell was on painkillers to deal with chronic arthritis and an itching rash “much like scabies” which had spread over his body.

Mr Magee added: “He became increasingly housebound and this led to a deterioration in his mental state.

“In terms of culpability, one can understand how he fostered his little garden and the birds that came into that garden…that was his very small connection to the previous active life that he had.

“With the background of the mental health issues, he picked up an air rifle while in drink, which belonged to his son, and stupidly shot the cat.

“His desire was to protect the birds, not to cause the cat harm.

“With matters of his pain, the cancer, the severe itching rash that had covered the vast majority of his body, the loneliness and perhaps the focus on his family of birds, he called it; he took that relatively stupid decision.”

Mr Magee said Boswell was a rowing coach for many years and had recently been volunteering two nights week for the Cam Rowers charity.

He urged the court to suspend Boswell’s prison sentence, telling them he had sought help for his alcohol addiction entirely by himself and that he was now in a position to be more active in his life.

After retiring to consider the appeal, Recorder Sandeep Kainth warned Boswell that his actions were “grave and serious” but said he felt satisfied that Boswell’s prison sentence could be suspended.

He added: “This was a deliberate attempt to cause suffering; this is evidenced by your actions of shooting the cat two times not one.

“But there are more mitigating features than aggravating features in this case.

“You have an excellent work ethic, you are a man of good character, this incident was isolated and you have shown genuine remorse.

“The risk of you offending again is very low; we accept that your motive was to protect the birds in your garden.

“It’s disappointing that at the age of 73 you find yourself before the courts, but we accept that for you this is a salutary lesson in itself.”

Sentencing: Boswell’s immediate prison sentence earlier handed down by magistrates was amended to a 12-week sentence, suspended for one year.

The court heard that Boswell had paid the £1,500 compensation to Ms King and his air rifle had been forfeited and destroyed.

Cambridge News

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