'I didn't hurt the cats'

Rosie Mullaley
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Carlene Lovell took the stand in her own defence Friday in provincial court in St. John's. Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

An accused cat killer admitted she lied to police in an effort to escape criminal charges.

But Carlene Tracey Lovell insists she didn't kill the two cats she was hired to care for.

"I knew I hadn't done anything wrong," Lovell said Friday while testifying in her own defence at provincial court in St. John's.

"I didn't hurt the cats. The cats meant a lot to me."

The 29-year-old Paradise woman is on trial for animal cruelty.

Lovell - who was a contract employee with the now-defunct Creature Care - was hired to care for two cats, Tabatha and Snuffy, while their owner, Iain McGaw, was out of town from April 27, 2010, to July 2, 2010.

But the cats disappeared.

Police say Lovell had neglected to care for the animals and they died as a result, although the bodies have never been found.

She initially denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

She told McGaw the cats had escaped during one of her visits when she opened the front door.

A month later, when questioned a second time by police, she said the cats did die after she went for periods of up to two weeks of not visiting.

She said she then disposed of the bodies in an area off Thorburn Road.

But making her first appearance in court since the trial began months ago, Lovell testified Friday she fabricated that story.

She said she did it because police told her she would be charged with theft of the animals unless she confessed they had died under her care.

Lovell said she took good care of the cats, visiting every second or third day while McGaw was away. She said she always made sure the cats had food and water and that their litter was changed.

She testified when they ran away she lied to McGaw, telling him the cats were fine, because she was afraid and felt guilty.

"I just know personally, if I left my animals in the care of someone else and that happened, I'd be very angry," Lovell said under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Glynne Faulkner.

"I was hoping they'd come back and there'd be nothing else to it."

But later, when she said the cats did die, Lovell even brought police to the area where she said she dumped the bodies.

In speaking with police, Lovell said she felt misled by officers, who she said incorrectly recorded what she told them.

"Three times you told (the officer taking your statement) that you had not been to see the cats for up to two weeks before finding them dead," Faulkner said to Lovell.

"I did not say that," she replied.

"So, (the officer) inaccurately recorded your statement?" Faulkner asked.

"Yes, several times," Lovell replied.

Faulkner later said, "You went through a lot of work to convince police the cats had died."

"Well, a lot was riding on this," Lovell said. "They told me no charges would be laid if the cats had died ... and (the officer) wanted bodies."

"You have no problem whatsoever lying to police," Faulkner pointed out.

"It's not fair to judge me on this one incident," Lovell shot back. "I don't have a history of this. I felt I was misled by police. ... This was my life, my career, my family, my everything,"

Judge Lynn Spracklin is expected to render the verdict in the case next month.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com Twitter: @TelyCourt



Geographic location: St. John's, Thorburn Road

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