Birmingham & Black Country

MP John Hemming's wife found guilty of kitten theft

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Media captionJason Pegg, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Christine Hemming was caught stealing something precious

The wife of a Liberal Democrat MP has been convicted of stealing a kitten from the home of her husband's lover.

Christine Hemming, 53, whose husband John is MP for Birmingham Yardley, was found guilty of burglary at Birmingham Crown Court.

She was filmed on CCTV removing the kitten, called Beauty, from the Birmingham home of Emily Cox last year.

Mrs Hemming was released on bail to reappear at the court on 28 October for sentencing.

She had denied burglary and said she could not remember taking the four-month-old kitten.

'Arguing on phone'

The kitten was owned by the four-year-old daughter the MP had with Ms Cox.

It has not been found since it was filmed being removed on 29 September 2010.

Speaking after the verdict, Mrs Hemming said it was hard to say how she felt following the trial.

"It's very difficult to put into words," she said. "I am, at this moment in time, quite stressed and tired by the whole process.

"I was totally humbled by the comments made about me in the character reference [in court] and I am immensely proud of my son and all my friends who have stood by me at such a difficult time."

She added that she wanted to put the whole experience behind her.

Mrs Hemming, from Moseley, Birmingham, married Mr Hemming in 1981 after they met at a conference in Bridlington.

She told the three-day trial her husband had had 26 liaisons since they married and that he finally left their marital home three days before the theft.

Mrs Hemming said she had only learned that her husband had a "love child" with Ms Cox from members of the media in April 2005.

'Replaced our cats'

She told the court she was dropping off post at the house in Church Road, Moseley, after arguing with her husband on the phone and did not know there was a cat there.

She told the court on Wednesday: "Everything just got out of hand.

Image caption Mr Hemming and Ms Cox were at home at the time Mrs Hemming entered the house, the CPS said

"I didn't mean to enter the property.

"I left holding a kitten - there is no doubt about that - but I have no recollection of picking the kitten up."

She also said she had tried to return the animal when she realised she had it by slotting it under the fence of a house in a street in Ms Cox's neighbourhood.

Earlier in the trial, the court was read a police transcript in which Mrs Hemming admitted taking Beauty.

She told officers she went to Church Road after her husband ended a telephone call to her, saying there was someone at the door.

She said: "I looked in and then it was open so I thought, 'Oh yes, this is great, this is where he's going to get his post sent to - I bet there's bits lying around here that I might be able to use in the divorce'.

"Then this kitten comes up to me and rubs itself against my legs and basically I thought: 'Not only has he replaced me, he's replaced our cats'."

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Mrs Hemming entering the house.

Ms Cox told the court that she had not involved herself in Mr and Mrs Hemmings' relationship because she did not think it was any of her business.

Mr Hemming said he did not think the trial would affect his political position "in a direct sense".

He added: "How well we do with the economy by 2015 will have far more of an effect than the trial of the last week."

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