OAP poisoned cat to protect his racing pigeons

Charles Coulter, who poisoned his neighbours cat in order to protect his racing pigeons. Pic: Vic Rodrick

Charles Coulter, who poisoned his neighbours cat in order to protect his racing pigeons. Pic: Vic Rodrick

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A pensioner laced tuna with poison in a bid to stop a neighbour’s cat hunting his racing pigeons.

Charles Coulter had been told by his pigeon-fancier friends that anti-freeze mixed with the tinned fish was an ideal deterrent for all sorts of “vermin”.

The 75-year-old had previously had problems with rats and weasels preying on his flock of competition birds.

But Livingston Sheriff Court heard he decided to take decisive action when his neighbour’s pet cat started taking too keen an interest in his beloved doves.

The self-proclaimed animal lover set out a dish of fish laced with poison on the step of his pigeon loft, claiming he picked the raised spot so hedgehogs wouldn’t be tempted to take the deadly bait.

But his anti-cat crusade resulted in his neighbour’s moggie suffering kidney damage, Livingston Sheriff Court heard today.

The kitten fell ill and spent several days having emergency treatment in a pet hospital.

Lyndsey Armstrong, prosecuting, said the cat would need medication prescribed by the vet for the rest of its life.

Coulter, 75, of Hartill Road, Fauldhouse, West Lothian, pled guilty yesterday to knowingly putting out poison with the intention of poisoning cats, among other things.

He admitted breaching the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912 by mixing tuna with ethylene glycol, the active ingredient of anti-freeze used in car radiators.

The offence carries a maximum fine of £2,500.

Miss Armstrong said the rear garden of Coulter’s home was surrounded by a seven feet high fence and could only be accessed via his back door.

The first sign of trouble was on December 10, 2012, when one of Coulter’s neighbours warned another neighbour that someone was poisoning pets with anti-freeze

She said: “The witness went to her rear garden and checked on her seven month old pet cat. On examination she found the cat smelled strongly of tuna fish.

“She’d gone into the back garden and shouted over the fence to the now accused and asked if he’d been having any issues with her cat.

“The accused replied: ‘Aye. He’s never oot ma garden!’

“She asked it he’d been putting out anything to poison the cat and he replied: ‘Yes. I have my own deterrent.’”

Miss Armstrong said the neighbour indicated she was “extremely unhappy” about the poison bait being put out, but Coulter told her her cat hadn’t eaten any of the fish.

Later that day Coulter’s neighbour took her cat to the vet, who found evidence of mild damage to the kitten’s kidneys and admitted the kitten to the veterinary hospital.

When Coulter inquired about the cat’s health the next day his neighbour said she thought her pet was dying.

He told her he didn’t think he’d poisoned her cat because the “stuff” he’d used was over 30 years old.

Inspectors from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived at Coulter’s home on December 11 and searched the premises with his consent.

They found a quantity of brown tuna meat which seemed to contain a blue liquid on the path leading to his pigeon loft.

The inspectors also recovered an empty tuna tin, an old drum of anti-freeze and a bottle labeled ‘ethylene glycol’.

Miss Armstrong said: “The accused was interviewed and he fully admitted contaminating tuna fish with anti-freeze and placing it in his rear garden to deter cats from annoying his pigeons.”

Raymond McMenamin, defending, said retired Coulter – who’s never been in trouble before – had been racing pigeons for over 30 years.

“He has over the years had his pigeons attacked by various types of vermin and, in the lead up to this offence, they’d been destroyed on a number of occasions – believed to be by a local cat.

“He was told if he put down tuna with anti-freeze it would scare off or upset whatever was trying to get at his pigeons.

“There’s a not unreasonable assumption that the cat which was later found to be ill had accessed it.”

Mr McMenamin said Coulter had been at pains to stress that the tuna was a deterrent and not an attempt to poison or kill any cat.

“I think it’s fair to say he learned a lesson from this. He expresses regret if indeed it was his tuna which caused the illness to the cat and he’s not embarked on anything like this since the offence.

“There’s never been any issue before regarding maltreatment of animals or cruelty.”

Sheriff Martin Edington told Coulter he was deferring sentence for six months for an estimate of how much ongoing vet bills were costing his neighbour.

He warned: “If you’re not of good behaviour, and in particular if there’s any repetition of this behaviour, you’ll be in danger of losing your liberty.”